Nirvana Seelster closed inside the duelling favourites down the stretch to spring a 17-1 surprise in the featured $34,000 Preferred Pace on Saturday night (May 14) at Mohawk Racetrack.
Reigning Horse of the Year State Treasurer and Nickle Bag, an eight-time Preferred winner already this year, battled on the front through the final half before Nirvana Seelster shot through at the inside to prevail in 1:50.3. With past stakes stars Reverand Hanover and Shamballa also in the mix this week making their seasonal debuts, Nirvana Seelster, a Preferred winner himself as recently as April 23, was overlooked in the wagering and paid $37.70 to win.
Leaving from post six, Nirvana Seelster and catch-driver Phil Hudon took the early lead over Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion) with State Treasurer (Chris Christoforou) floating out from post seven into the first turn. Nirvana Seelster clocked a :26.3 first quarter with State Treasurer advancing and eventually taking over the top sport just before hitting the half-mile mark in :53.2. Meanwhile, Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) tipped out from fourth and swept up to challenge State Treasurer in a third quarter duel of the 8-5 favourites. State Treasurer appeared to have shaken off his rival past the 1:21.1 third quarter mark, but Nickle Bag re-rallied in the stretch and gained a slight advantage. However, Nirvana Seelster came through along the pylons to score the upset victory in 1:50.3, defeating Nickle Bag by half a length. Reverend Hanover (Steve Condren) came from second-to-last to finish third while Ellis Park (Randy Waples) finished fourth after tracking Nickle Bag’s cover and State Treasurer faded to fifth.
Nirvana Seelster now has five wins from 16 starts in his current five-year-old campaign along with six other top-three finishes for earnings of $128,000. The Camluck-No Strikes Against gelding is a 21-time winner overall with a bankroll totalling $432,906 for trainer Bill Budd and owner Bruce Davy of Brockville, Ont.