TORONTO — Moira and jockey Rafael Hernandez made it look easy Sunday.
Hernandez guided Moira to a stunning 10 3/4-length win in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks at Woodbine Racetrack. The filly captured the 1 1/8-mile race on the circuit’s Tapeta track in 1:49.78.
Also on Sunday’s card was the $150,400 Plate Trial, which Sir For Sure won in 1:50.62, also over 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta. Both races are considered prep events for the $1-million Queen’s Plate, the opening jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown that will be run Aug. 21 at Woodbine.
Moira secured trainer Kevin Attard a second straight Oaks victory. Attard left the door open for Moira to take a run at the Plate.
“We’ve discussed that, we spaced this race out with the possibility if things went well (Sunday) that we could see her there,” Attard said. “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.”
Four Oaks champions have gone on to win the Plate — Holy Helena (2017), Lexie Lou (2014), Inglorious (2011) and Dancethruthedawn (2001). In 2018, Oaks runner-up Wonder Gadot won the opening leg of Canada’s Triple Crown.
Moira, the even-money favourite in the 10-horse field, earned her third win in four career starts. Sister Seagull came on to secure second while Sahlabiya was third, a nose ahead of Souper Flashy, another Attard trainee.
“She was push button in the first turn,” said Hernandez. “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.”
What’s more, Moira ran minus horseshoes on her hind legs.
“You know, she’s always been a little bit kind of antsy in the paddock,” Attard said. “We school her a lot and she just kind of had a little episode and unfortunately stepped on her hind foot and kind of knocked off the one shoe and kind of bent the other. The paddock blacksmith tried to adjust it and fix it … so, we elected to run her without the hind shoes. I wasn’t too concerned with it being a synthetic surface. But obviously you’re not accustomed to doing it, so it’s always a little bit in the back of your head anyways. She’s a class horse and I’ve always thought highly of her, and she obviously ran to that (Sunday).”
In the Plate Trial, jockey Declan Carroll guided Sir For Sure to a two-length victory ahead of Hall of Dreams. Afterwards, Hall of Dream’s jockey, Patrick Husbands, launched a claim of foul against the winner, but the order of finish remained unchanged.
Causin’ Mayhem was third ahead of Duke of Love.
“I knew my horse had a good kick when he won at Gulfstream, so I just bided my time, and then when I had to make room, I was able to push out,” said Carroll. “You know, that’s how racing is sometimes, it gets a little rough but I’m happy to come away with a win. Honestly, it was a very easy ride. He travelled beautifully throughout the race.”
It was the first stakes win for Sir For Sure. The bay gelding has two wins and a second-place finish from five starts.