Sans Hind Shoes, Moira Romps To Commanding Woodbine Oaks Triumph - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Sans Hind Shoes, Moira Romps To Commanding Woodbine Oaks Triumph

Rafael Hernandez guides Moira to a dominating victory in the Woodbine Oaks

Moira, under Rafael Hernandez, made it look easy in taking the 67th running of the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred fillies Sunday at Woodbine.

Trained by Kevin Attard for owner X-Men Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC, and SF Racing LLC, Moira took the lead around the turn for home and then easily glided away from the field en route to a 10 ¾-length score and a possible date in the Queen's Plate, set for August 21 at the Toronto racetrack.

If Saturday's performance is any indication of what could come in a month's time, the connections of the Ghostzapper filly are no doubt smiling.

Loaded Vixen, supplemented to the race, was put on the front end by Patrick Husbands, with Chad Brown trainee Sahlabiya settling into second and Maccool's Girl locking into third spot through an opening quarter timed in :23.54, as Moira was positioned into seventh spot in the 10-horse field.

It was status quo for the top three through a half reached in :47.34, as Hernandez kept Moira, now sixth, unfettered and running comfortably.

By the time field made its way into the turn for home, Moira was gobbling up ground and gliding her way up to the leaders, looking like she had plenty left in the tank.

And as her rivals soon discovered, she absolutely did.

Ahead by five lengths at Robert Geller's stretch call, in 1:36.85, Moira poured it on down the lane, the even-money choice romping to the easiest of victories. In the final strides, Hernandez pointed emphatically at the filly, who now has three wins and a second from four career starts.

Sister Seagull soared from well back to secure second spot, while Sahlabiya finished third, a nose ahead of Souper Flashy, another Attard trainee.

The final time for the race on the Tapeta surface was 1:49.78.

“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.

“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. 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.”

Prior to the race, it was horseshoes that would alter the pre-race game plan.

“It was crazy,” Attard started. “You know, she's always been a little bit kind of antsy in the paddock. 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 shoe. The paddock blacksmith tried to adjust it and fix it. I appreciate his effort. 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 today.”

Now, the decision to run in the $1 million Queen's Plate will be a topic of conversation in the coming days.

“We've discussed that, we spaced this race out with the possibility if things went well today that we could see her there,” said Attard, who captured his second straight Oaks after winning last year with Munnyfor Ro. “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.”

Donato Lanni, of X-Men Racing, will take a wait-and-see approach with his sophomore star, who returned $4.

“It's going be up to her and Kevin. It may be great to run in that race again,” he said. “Fillies have won it before, but we're just so lucky to be here today. So, let's take one race at a time and thank you for Woodbine. You do a great job here and it's a great place to come.”

The Woodbine Oaks has served as a Queen's Plate stepping-stone for fillies. Oaks-Plate champions include Holy Helena (2017), Lexie Lou (2014), Inglorious (2011) and Dancethruthedawn (2001). In 2018, Oaks runner-up Wonder Gadot went on to win the Queen's Plate.

Adena Springs bred Moira in Ontario from the Unbridled's Song mare Devine Aida. Hidden Brook sold her to Lanni's X-Men Racing for $150,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

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