January 29, 2023

Filly Moira trounces records and males in the Queen’s Plate

Moira and Rafael Hernandez winning the Queen’s Plate (Photo by Michael Burns Photo)

For the fifth time in the last dozen years, a filly defeated males in the C$1 million Queen’s Plate S. at Woodbine, with Moira claiming top honors in record-setting fashion.

Canada’s equivalent to the Kentucky Derby (G1) attracted 11 starters to race 1 1/4 miles on Tapeta, but in the end it was all about Moira, who entered off a 10 3/4-length score in the Woodbine Oaks. She wasn’t in any hurry early on, settling as many as 8 3/4 lengths behind fractions of :23.75, :47.58, and 1:11.85 set by The Minkster.

But then the three-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper unleashed a breathtaking turn of foot around the far turn and down the homestretch, surging past rivals to dominate by seven lengths while easing up late.

“It’s unbelievable,” said winning jockey Rafael Hernandez, who picked up his second Queen’s Plate win following Shaman Ghost in 2015. “You know, with good horses, you can get out of trouble so quick and always get a second, or third gear like her. Sat off, save ground, and when you want to get out of the horses in front of you, you just move out, and she gave me everything. She gave me another gear, and when we turned for home, she was unbelievable. She’s something else. She is so special.”

Moira’s eye-catching surge carried her to the finish line in 2:01.48, a track record and the fastest Queen’s Plate ever contested over 1 1/4 miles. Fellow deep closer Hall of Dreams rallied to complete the exacta over the pace-tracking Sir for Sure, followed by Ironstone, Dancin in Da’nile, Rondure, Hunt Master, Duke of Love, The Minkster, Causin’ Mayhem, and Shamateur.

For trainer Kevin Attard and owners X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables, and SF Racing, Moira’s success marked their first triumph in the Queen’s Plate.

“I’ve been down this path with a few horses that I thought I’ve had chances,” said Attard. “Obviously, I was really excited today with this filly. But it’s just such a hard race to win and you don’t know. But you know, I’m here now and I got this trophy in my hand I worked really hard. I have a great staff. And it’s just a great moment and I’m so happy right now.”

Moira was bred in Ontario by Adena Springs. The bay filly was produced by the Unbridled’s Song mare Devine Aida, and she’s the third Queen’s Plate winner sired by Ghostzapper following Shaman Ghost and Holy Helena.

Supporting the Queen’s Plate were three other afternoon stakes, two of them graded:

  • The C$125,000 Sweet Briar Too S. for fillies and mares saw Hazelbrook track a duel from third place and then pounce to victory down the homestretch. Hazelbrook prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Beyond Mybudget and Golden Vision, stopping the clock for 6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta in 1:16.14. Jason Hoyte rode the winner on behalf of trainer Lorne Richards.
  • The C$200,000 King Edward S. (G2) saw Filo Di Arianna boost his Woodbine Mile (G1) credentials with a sharp pacesetting victory under Kazushi Kimura. The six-year-old Mark Casse trainee kicked on down the lane to win by two lengths over Harland Estate and Haddassah, completing one mile on turf in 1:34.69.
  • The C$200,000 Canadian S. (G2) for fillies and mares produced a dramatic finish as pace-tracking Fev Rover found just enough to win by a nose over Crystal Cliffs, with Flirting Bridge three-quarters of a length back in third place. Patrick Husbands rode the winner to victory in 1:47.33 for about 1 1/8 miles on turf, giving trainer Casse a graded stakes double.