The picture for the upcoming 2022 Queen’s Plate – the 163rd running of North America’s most historic horse race – just got a little clearer. MOIRA scored an authoritative victory in the $500k Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, winning as the even-odds favourite by 10 3/4 lengths under Rafael Hernandez for Trainer Kevin Attard and Co-Owners Madaket Stables, X-Men Racing and SF Racing. She won in a rapid final time of 1:49.7 for 1 1/8 miles. This was just the second start in 2022 after the winter off for this talented filly by stallion Ghostzapper, from the Unbridled Song mare, Devine Aida. This definitely stamps Moira a leading contender in the Queen’s Plate, to be contested August 21, 2022 at Woodbine Racetrack where she would face males. Finishing second was Sister Seagull and American invader, the maiden Sahlabiya from famed Shadwell Stable and leading Trainer Chad Brown finished third. The high-strung Moira prior to the race had kicked her Blacksmith, though he appears to be fine, and also post-race almost unseated Hernandez after getting spooked by infield flags blowing in the wind. Despite her quirks, she is a consummate professional when racing.
Earlier on the Card was the $150k Plate Trial Stakes, the official prep race for the Queen’s Plate. That was taken by 21-to-1 longshot SIR FOR SURE under Declan Carroll who just joined the local jockey circuit this year, for Team Mark Casse and Owner Heste Sport, which is a force both on the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred side in Ontario. This marks Carroll‘s first ever stake win at Woodbine. Second was stablemate Hall of Dreams, while U.S. invander Causin’ Mayhem held-on for third. The latter is owned by local outfit Chiefswood Stable and is based in the U.S. with top Trainer Todd Pletcher. The race was run about a full second slower than the fillies in the Woodbine Oaks.
Also on the Super-card today was the Grade II Dance Smartly Stakes, taken by another American invader, WAKANAKA. Going off as the post-time favourite at 6-to-5 odds, this Bill Mott Trainee owned by Film Producer Gary Barber and Team Valor, won by 1 1/4 lengths, finishing the 1 1/16 mile race on the turf in a brisk 1:39.4. Rafael Hernandez had a big day taking both the Oaks and this, surviving a claim of foul here.
HAZELBROOK scored a surprise upset in the $150k Hendrie Stakes at the top of the Card, winning at 26-to-1 odds for True North Stable and Trainer Lorne Richards. Jockey Jason Hoyte scored his first-ever stakes win at Woodbine here. The 6 1/2 furlong sprint was won in 1:15.6.
It was an eventful day which saw multiple claims of objection filed but none successful and one of those winners was two-year-old Ransom the Moon colt ONE FOR CHAP. He broke his maiden on the turf for Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson’s Spruce Stable, with Rafael Hernandez winning again. Mark Casse trains this colt who is a half-brother to champion filly Mrs. Barbara. We learned that Lawson used to call his dad “Chap”, hence inspiring the name. Perhaps we will be seeing him in September’s Grade I Summer Stakes, a win-and-you’re-in Breeders’ Cup race?
Veteran jockey SLADE CALLAGHAN also was named 2022 Avelino Gomez Award recipient, an honour given to a jockey who has made a signficicant contribution to the Sport locally. Callaghan was joined by his peers, past and present accepting the Award with his wife, Trainer Kelly Callaghan beside him.
It was a day of many faces. Some of the names here today.
Betting handles were phenomental today with the total reaching $10.1 million for this star-studded Card.
More on the upcoming Queen’s Plate including tickets here.