Rondure Races Into G2 Eclipse in Winning Form

May 29, 2024

Rondure and jockey Rafael Hernandez winning the Marine Stakes (G3) on July 2, 2022. (Michael Burns Photo) 

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications

TORONTO, Ont. – Rondure, fresh off a gutsy score at seven furlongs, tackles two turns and top talents in the $175,000 bet365 Eclipse Stakes (G2), Saturday at Woodbine. 

A 1 1/16-mile main track event for 4-year-olds and upwards, the Eclipse has attracted a field of eight that includes 2023 King’s Plate winner Paramount Prince, along with multiple graded stakes winners War Bomber (IRE), who is cross-entered in Saturday’s $135,000 Jacques Cartier (G3), Get Smokin, and Tyson.

Bred and owned by Borders Racing Stable Ltd., nom du course of Hazel Bennett and Harry Dobson, the resilient Rondure heads into his latest test off a sterling performance on May 11 at Woodbine.

Under regular rider Rafael Hernandez, the son of Oxbow-Carat Weight eked out a head score in his 5-year-old debut.

Sent off as the 5-2 second choice, Rondure patiently tracked the pacesetter along the backstretch before taking command at the sixteenth pole and then tenaciously repelled the favourite for the hard-fought victory.

“Rondure is doing very well,” said trainer Katerina Vassilieva. “I’m happy with how he is coming into the Eclipse. He’s kept his fitness from the last race and from the winter. He had a very good winter.”

After two troubled journeys to begin his career, Rondure turned heads in his 3-year-old debut on May 14, 2022, at Woodbine.

Sent off at 10-1, he romped to a 10 ¾-length score, a performance that elevated his King’s Plate profile.

In his next start, the seven-furlong Queenston Stakes that June, Rondure crossed the wire a head behind fellow Plate contender The Minkster. 

After an impressive triumph in the Marine Stakes, Rondure was sixth in the Plate and then seventh in a 1 1/16-mile main track race in December to close out his 2022 campaign.

Rondure returned the following March and was runner-up in a 1 1/16-mile race at Turfway Park before his return to Woodbine.

He was in the winner’s circle in his following start at seven panels in May before an eighth in last year’s Eclipse in June.

Rondure and jockey Rafael Hernandez winning Race 8 on May 11, 2024, at Woodbine. (Michael Burns Photo) 
Rondure and jockey Rafael Hernandez winning Race 8 on May 11, 2024, at Woodbine. (Michael Burns Photo) 

“It was a disappointing result” said Vassilieva. “I’m still scratching my head as to what happened that day. I’m just going to put a line through that race.”

“He had to deal with an issue after the Eclipse that kept him out of action for almost a year. But he came back with that nice win this May. He always runs well fresh, and he still is after that last effort.”

The bay heads into Saturday’s affair with a 4-2-0 record from 11 starts, along with $251,954 in career purse earnings.

“At 3, he won the Marine, which is the same distance as the Eclipse,” noted Vassilieva. “Since he’s won at seven furlongs several times, I considered entering the Jacques Cartier (also on Saturday), but I don’t think he’s a stone-cold, six-furlong type of sprinter.”

“We opted to try a mile and a sixteenth again, so hopefully, he can come up with another big performance at that distance.”

Vassilieva, who had a career-best 2023 campaign and is off to a strong start in 2024, has always been a believer in Rondure’s abilities.

“He’s had to contend with some physical issues over his career, but we work with him to get him back on track and he always runs his heart out.”

One constant for Rondure, throughout the ups and downs, is his affinity for rest.

“He’s a master napper,” said Vassilieva. “He takes good care of himself, and knows how to conserve his energy, which is a good thing.

“When he’s on the racetrack, his grit and tenacity shines through. He has a warrior attitude. He loves to train and always wants to be a competitor. He is a true athlete.”

Bennett, based in Calgary, shared the story of how she named her horse.

“I looked at Oxbow (Rondure’s sire and winner of the 2013 Preakness Stakes), and thought, ‘How am I going to name this guy?’. I got out the dictionary and started looking at names and came across Rondure. It means, ‘gracefully rounded curve.’ And that’s what we went with.”

bet365 Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes (Race 9)  

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer  

1 – Tyson – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll

2 – Skyro – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard

3 – Palazzi – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

4 – War Bomber (IRE) – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Norm McKnight

5 – J P Hellish – Eswan Flores – Martin Drexler

6 – Paramount Prince – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

7 – Get Smokin (S) – Fernando De La Cruz – Mark Casse

8 – Rondure – Rafael Hernandez – Katerina Vassilieva

@pastthewire As always brilliantly written and perfectly toned observations written by @jonathanstettin everyone in the industry needs to read this and view it as a call to action.

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