September 25, 2023

Moira smashes Woodbine Oaks; Sir for Sure upsets Plate Trial

Moira winning the Woodbine Oaks at Woodbine (Photo by Michael Burns)

On a busy Sunday of racing at Woodbine, Moira caught eyes with a terrific victory in the Woodbine Oaks, stamping the three-year-old filly as a possible contender for the C$1 million Queen’s Plate S.

Favored at even-money off a season-opening victory in the Fury S. at Woodbine, Moira ran out of her skin in the Woodbine Oaks. The three-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper settled as many as seven lengths behind fractions of :23.54, :47.34, and 1:11.78 before unleashing a spectacular turn of foot under jockey Rafael Hernandez to draw off and dominate by 10 3/4 lengths.

“She was push-button in the first turn,” Hernandez told Woodbine. “We just sat there and saved as much ground as we could and made our move down the backside. I knew horses were going to be stopping in front of me, so I just tried to get her away from them. By the three-eighths, I was already where I wanted to be. Turning for home, I just talked to her and said, ‘Come on Moira, it’s all about you. Go get it.’ And she just exploded.”

Sister Seagull secured second place by 4 3/4 lengths over Sahlabiya, followed by Souper Flashy, Pioneer’s Edge, Swoop to Finish, Maccool’s Girl, Bizymaline, Curlin Candy, and Loaded Vixen. But none could match strides with Moira, who completed 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta in a snappy 1:49.78.

“I have to give a lot of thanks to this excellent group, the owners, for giving me an opportunity to get back on this amazing filly,” continued Hernandez. “From the first day I got on in the morning I was impressed. Today, she showed up. She just played with the rest of the field.”

It’s not uncommon by any means for Woodbine Oaks winners to come back and beat males in the Queen’s Plate; it’s happened three times in the last dozen years, with Inglorious (2011), Lexie Lou (2014), and Holy Helena (2017) completing the double. Moira would appear to have every chance at doing the same if trainer Kevin Attard and owners X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables, and SF Racing opt to give the Queen’s Plate a try.

“We’ve discussed (running in the Queen’s Plate); we spaced this race out with the possibility if things went well today that we could see her there,” said Attard. “We’ll have a little discussion about that. And as long as she comes out fine, I’m sure we’re willing to give it a try.”

Assuming Moira does start in the Queen’s Plate, she could square off against Sir for Sure, who posted a 21-1 upset victory in Sunday’s Plate Trial S. at Woodbine. Racing wide throughout under Declan Carroll, Sir for Sure had little difficulty rallying off splits of :24.07, :48.65, and 1:12.62 to defeat deep closer Hall of Dreams by two lengths, following by Causin’ Mayhem, Duke of Love, Dancin in Da’nile, The Minkster, Lac Macaza, Guard of Honour, and Bill Needle.

A stewards’ inquiry examined a moment turning for home when Sir for Sure bumped runner-up Hall of Dreams, but no change was made to the order of finish.

Sir for Sure required 1:50.62 to complete 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta, a clocking 0.84 slower than Moira in the Woodbine Oaks. But Sir for Sure—previously sixth in the Queenston S. at Woodbine—is progressing in the right direction for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse and has to be viewed as a primary threat to give Casse a third win in the Queen’s Plate.

Two other stakes took place on Sunday at Woodbine. The 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie S. (G3) on Tapeta saw 26-1 longshot Hazelbrook rally hard and outduel Amalfi Coast to win by a neck in 1:15.68. Jason Hoyte rode the winner on behalf of Lorne Richards, who trains the four-year-old daughter of Bayern. La Libertee, Boardroom, Artie’s Princess, Dynasty of Her Own, and Lorena trailed the field.

The final stakes of the afternoon was the Dance Smartly S. (G2), a 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares. Hernandez rode 13-10 favorite Wakanaka for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and executed a perfect ride, unleashing the four-year-old daughter of Power from midfield to sprint past rivals and win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:39.46. Fev Rover edged 2021 Woodbine Oaks winner Munnyfor Ro for second place, followed by Seasons, Inthewinnerscircle, and Youens.

The 2022 Queen’s Plate is scheduled for Aug. 21 at Woodbine.