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2022 Woodbine Oaks Day

Moira gets her flower blanket after winning the Woodbine Oaks.

Date: 7/24/2022

Sunday at Woodbine, the two major local preps for the Queen's Plate Stakes, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, were contested over the Tapeta main track. Conditions were excellent at the Toronto oval next to Pearson International Airport, with cloudy skies and a race time temperature of 30.5 C (87 F), and the E.P. Taylor Turf Course rated "firm" (GoingStick 10.8 which would be "good-to-firm" in Europe). The highlight race of the afternoon was the 67th running of the $500,000 Budweiser Woodbine Oaks, featuring top Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles, kicking off the Triple Tiara series. A field of 10 faced the starter, with Moira sent off as the even-money favorite off her win in the Fury Stakes after closing 2021 with a close second in the Mazarine (G3). In to challenge her included 9-2 second choice Sahlabiya, still a maiden with a 3rd place finish in her debut and a second placing last out at Belmont Park, and 5-1 third choice Pioneer's Edge, a close second to Moira in the Fury before finishing 5th in the Selene (G3).

Down the stretch with Moira drawing away.

Jockey Patrick Husbands sent 20-1 Loaded Vixen to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 23.53, 47.34, and 1:11.78 while pressed by Sahlabiya and stalked by 22-1 Maccool's Girl. Turning for home Loaded Vixen tired badly and dropped back to last but Moira, 7th early under Rafael Hernandez, came out 3 wide and swept to the front, quickly opening up a 5 length lead through 1 mile in 1:36.85. 10-1 Sister Seagull put in a strong rally from 9th to no avail as Moira drew off impressively to win by 10 3/4 lengths in 1:49.78. It was another 4 3/4 lengths back to Sahlabiya third.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 3   Moira              Hernandez     4.00    2.80   2.50
 7   Sister Seagull     Gallardo              7.60   4.20 
 6   Sahlabiya          Fukumoto                     4.10

Winning Time:  1:49.78
$1 Exacta 7-3                  13.30
$0.20 Trifecta 7-3-6           12.18
$0.20 Superfecta 7-3-6-2       79.69
Results Chart

Left: Moira in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Kevin Attard said, "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."

Right: Moira gets hosed off after the race. Attard added, "We've discussed that, we spaced this race out with the possibility if things went well today that we could see her (in the Plate). 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." Co-owner Donato Lanni said, "It's going be up to her and Kevin. It may be great to run in that race again. 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."

Left: Moira in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Rafael Hernandez said, "She was push button in the first turn. 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."

Right: Moira was fractious in both the paddock and winner's circle. Attard said of the paddock incident, "It was crazy. 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."

Left: Second place finisher Sister Seagull in the post parade. The Catherine Day Phillips trainee improved her record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 6 starts, earning $144,187 for owner-breeder Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry.

Right: Third place finisher Sahlabiya races in second first time by. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to 0 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 3 starts, earning $67,510 for owner Shadwell Stable.

The fillies break from the gate for the Woodbine Oaks.

An hour before the Oaks, a field of nine Canadian-foaled three-year-old males also went 1 1/8 miles in the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes, the major local prep for the Queen's Plate to be run in 4 weeks time. The Minkster was sent off as the 9-5 favorite, undefeated in 3 starts including the Coronation Futurity in October and the Queenston in June. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Duke of Love, second in the Marine Stakes (G3), and 4-1 third choice Causin' Mayhem off his maiden win at second asking at Belmont.

Jockey Eswan Flores sent Causin' Mayhem to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.07 and 48.54 while pressed by 7-1 Dancin in Da'nile and stalked by The Minkster. On the far turn Dancin in Da'nile moved up to take the lead through 3/4 in 1:12.62, but into the lane 22-1 Sir for Sure, 5th early under Declan Carroll, came out 4 wide and swept to the front through 1 mile in 1:37.62. Kept to task by Carroll, Sir for Sure drew off to win by 2 lengths over 9-1 Hall of Dreams in 1:50.62. It was another 2 lengths back to Causin' Mayhem third, while favorite The Minkster tired late to finish 6th beaten 6 lengths. While rallying , winner Sir for Sure bumped Hall of Dreams at the 3/16 pole, causing the stewards to initiate an inquiry but the order of finish was not changed.
Results Chart

Left: Sir for Sure returns after the race. Winning owner Rene Hunderup said, "Thankful to Mark (Casse, trainer) for the preparation, thankful to my wife (Darlene) for having bred this incredible beast, and he just came through as a real classy horse. It's wonderful to be the owner of such a classy horse."

Right: Sir for Sure gets hosed off after the race. Winning jockey Declan Carroll said, "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. 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 traveled beautifully throughout the race."

Left: Second placed finisher Hall of Dreams gets hosed off while waiting for the decision on the inquiry. The Mark Casse trainee improved his record to 1 win, 4 seconds, and 0 thirds in 7 starts, earning $113,287 for owners Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch, and Leonard Schleifer.

Right: Third placed finisher Causin' Mayhem in the post parade. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved his record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $71,713 for owner-breeder Chiefswood Stables.

Left: Sixth place finisher and beaten favorite The Minkster returns after the race. The Dan Vella trainee has a record of 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 0 thirds in 4 starts, earning $229,059 for owner Sea Glass Stables.

Right: The horses break from the gate for the Plate Trial.

Closing out the Sunday stakes quartet, the $200,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) featured a field of 6 older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles around one turn of the Taylor turf course, and kicks off Woodbine's "Ladies of the Lawn" stakes series, which consists of the Dance Smartly, Canadian Stakes (G2), and E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1). Wakanaka was sent off as the 6-5 favorite off her second place finish in the Just a Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. In to challenge her included 2-1 second choice Fev Rover, unraced since 4th in the Bahrain International Trophy (G3) in November, and 9-2 third choice Seasons off an allowance win.

Jockey Patrick Husbands sent Fev Rover to the lead through fractions of 23.65, 47.19, and 1:10.26 while pressed by 11-1 Inthewinnerscircle and stalked by Seasons Turning for home, Wakanaka, 4th early under Rafael Hernandez swept to the front through 1 mile in 1:33.32. Kept to task by Hernandez, Wakanaka drew off to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Fev Rover in 1:39.46. It was a head back to 11-2 fourth choice Munnyfo Ro third. Husbands aboard Fev Rover claimed foul against Hernandez aboard Wakanaka for interference in the stretch but the claim was disallowed.
Results Chart

Left: Wakanaka in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Rafael Hernandez said, "Keeping her forward and turning for home, she saw the daylight and just ran off. She just looked a little bit at the grandstand. We've got a long stretch here and when horses come here new, they like to look at the grandstand too much. I just try to keep their attention on the race."

Right: Wakanaka heads back to the barn after the race.

Left: Second place finisher Fev Rover in the post parade. The Mark Casse trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 12 starts, earning $352,541 for owner Tracy Farmer.

Right: Third place finisher Munnyfor Ro returns after the race. The Kevin Attard trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 14 starts, earning $581,184 for owner Raroma Stable.

Kicking off the stakes action, the $150,000 Hendrie Stakes (G3) featured a field of 7 older fillies and mares sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the Tapeta. Royal North (G2) winner Boardroom was sent off as the even-money choice over 2-1 second choice Artie's Princess, winner of the Ballade Stakes, and 7-1 third choice Amalfi Coast, 8th in the Royal North.

Jockey Patrick Husbands sent Artie's Princess to the lead out of the chute through an opening quarter in 22.22 before 34-1 longest shot Dynasty of Her Own took over on the turn through a half in 44.23. Into the stretch 26-1 Hazelbrook, 6th early under Jason Hoyte, came out 6 wide and swept to the front through 3/4 in 1:09.17. Hazelbrook outdueled Amalfi Coast late to win by a neck in 1:15.68. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 8-1 La Libertee third, and another length to favorite Boardroom fourth.
Results Chart

Left: Hazelbrook in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Jason Hoyte said, "I began with her as a two-year old when l was galloping for Lorne at that time. She's a very smart horse. Every start she's been improving and improving, but today she really ran her heart out. She was really nice today. My boss and I talked this morning and he told me to try and get her going there. She broke smart, I chased her for like two strides, and then I saw everyone was committed to the outside, so I just took a little hold, and it was easy to get out, and it was really nice."

Right: Hazelbrook gets hosed off after the race.

Left: Second place finisher Amalfi Coast returns after the race. The Mark Casse trainee improved her record to 7 wins, 4 seconds, and 4 thirds in 21 starts, earning $639,546 for owner Tracy Farmer.

Right: Third place finisher La Libertee in the post parade. The Mark Casse trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 6 thirds in 15 starts, earning $163,637 for owner-breeder Tracy Farmer.

Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Boardroom returns after the race. The Josie Carroll trainee has a record of 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 10 starts, earning $395,981 for owner LNJ Foxwoods.

A tradition on Woodbine Oaks day is the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award ceremony. It is a lifetime achievement award given to a Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, or regular rider in Canada for 5 years, who has made significant contributions to the sport, with the winner receiving a replica of the life-size statue that overlooks the walking ring. The Cuban-born Gomez died of complications after a 3-horse spill during the 1980 Canadian Oaks, and the award named in his honour is Canada's equivalent to the George Woolf Memorial Award in California and the Mike Venezia Memorial Award in New York.

This year's recipient is Slade Callaghan, who recorded nearly 850 wins including 31 stakes. He started riding in his native Barbados before relocating to Woodbine in 1994 joining his brother Brett. Among his stakes wins are the 2002 Breeders' Stakes with Portcullis and the 2008 Woodbine Mile with Rahy's Attorney. He was presented the award by Daren Gomez, a nephew of Avelino Gomez who served as Callaghan's jockey agent and now is the director of the Jockey Benefit Association of Canada, the Canadian equivelent of the U.S. Jockey's Guild. Callaghan said, "I've never been a top three, top five rider, but I've always been a solid, hard-working rider. To be recognized with this award is truly one of the best things that I've experienced in my career. It really is nice and I'm very grateful for it. But for me, when I look back on my career, everything comes back to the horses and the people. That's what's it all about. The grooms, the hotwalkers, the valets, the gate crew, exercise riders, trainers, owners, my fellow riders, and everyone who works hard to make the races happen, I'm very appreciative of everyone and what they do. I was also extremely fortunate to have had one agent, Daren Gomez, throughout my career. I can't think of any rider and agent in more recent times who have had that long of a relationship at Woodbine."

Callaghan joins Ron Turcotte, Johnny Longden, Sandy Hawley, Don MacBeth, Chris Rogers, Jeff Fell, Lloyd Duffy, Hugo Dittfach, Robin Platts, Larry Attard, Don Seymour, David Gall, Richard Grubb, Irwin Driedger, David Clark, Jim McKnight, Chris Loseth, Richard Dos Ramos, Robert Landry, Francine Villeneuve, Sam Krasner, John LeBlanc Sr., George Ho Sang, Jack Lauzon, Robert King Jr., Stewart Elliott, Emile Ramsammy, Steve Bahen, Mickey Walls, Patrick Husbands, Quincy Welch, Gary Stahlbaum, Gary Boulanger, Emma-Jayne Wilson, Frank Barroby and last year's recipient Eurico Rosa da Silva as Gomez recipients.

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