Trainer Kevin Attard will have two chances to net his second consecutive victory in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, one of four stakes on Sunday’s 11-race card at Woodbine.
Inaugurated in 1956, the filly classic, which has attracted 10 Canadian-foaled three-year-old fillies carrying 121 pounds over one mile and one-eighth on the Tapeta, will go postward as race 9 at 5:27 p.m. ET. The winning connections will receive $300,000.
Sunday’s card also features the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes (see separate race preview), a key race ahead of the Queen’s Plate (August 21), the Grade 2 $200,000 Dance Smartly Stakes, and Grade 3 $150,000 Hendrie Stakes.
After winning last year’s Oaks with eventual Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Munnyfor Ro, Attard will look to duplicate that success with the duo of Moira and Souper Flashy.
Moira, a daughter of Ghostzapper-Devine Aida, arrives at Sunday’s engagement off a gutsy head score in the seven-furlong Fury Stakes on June 11 at Woodbine. Owned by X-Men Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and SF Racing LLC, the bay, bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, has two wins and a second in three career starts. She won her debut, the 1 1/16-mile main track Princess Elizabeth Stakes, by 4 ¼ lengths last October, and completed her rookie campaign with a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes in November.
Rafael Hernandez, aboard for the Fury triumph, will once again be in the irons.
“It was the first time aboard in the races, but Kevin let me work her twice before the race, and it let me know how she reacted in the morning,” said Hernandez after the win. “It helped me a lot in the race. That was the plan [a strong gallop out]. Kevin told me, ‘Raffi, after the race, I just want you to give her a big, huge gallop out.’ And that’s what I did, and she galloped out great.”
Attard is anticipating another strong showing from Moira.
“We had high hopes for her from the beginning. This was the race we were hoping that she could make. Now, we’re just around the corner, so hopefully everything goes well over the next few days. She had a good race to start her three-year-old campaign. It wasn’t where we wanted to start her off, but circumstances dictated that we go that route. Now, we’ve given her enough time to recover from that race and prepare for this race. She’s coming into it in good shape. I’m happy with the way she’s training and I’m happy with her physical appearance as well. Everything seems like it’s gone according to plan.”
A lifetime winner of 607 races, Attard is pleased with how one of his stable stars has developed from two to three.
“I just think she’s a good horse. Any time you can get a horse like that in your barn, you really appreciate it. She’s given it her all every start. It’s been a limited campaign so far, but she is an honest type, likes her job and has a world of talent.”
Souper Flashy, a Terra Racing Stable homebred, brings a 2-1-0 mark from four starts into the Oaks.
The daughter of Souper Speedy-Flashy’s Legacy came from out of the clouds to win her career bow last September. Eleventh of 12 at the half-mile juncture in the 6 ½ furlong Tapeta race, Souper Flashy rallied to secure a half-length victory at 18-1.
After finishing second to Moira in the Princess Elizabeth, the bay filly made her three-year-old debut on May 12 at Woodbine, posting a 3 ½-length score at six panels on the main track.
She heads into the Oaks off a fourth in the Fury Stakes.
“She’s a nice filly, an Ontario-sired filly who is going to be taking a step up in company. The distance might be a little more than she prefers, but the way the race is shaping up, it’s a good opportunity to take a stab at it. There aren’t many opportunities to run against registered Canadian-breds for half a million dollars.”
Bizymaline, a daughter of Fed-Biz-Tourmaline, has two wins from six appearances for owner Anthony Di Paola and trainer Santino Di Paola. Bred by Al and Bill Ulwelling, the dark bay, supplemented to the Oaks, finished fifth in her debut last October before breaking her maiden next time out. Her most recent victory came on May 14, a one-length triumph at 1 1/16 miles over the Woodbine Tapeta.
Curlin Candy, bred and owned by Robert Marzilli, will attempt to go one better than her last three efforts. Trained by Mike De Paulo, the bay daughter of Curlin-Caren is 0-4-0 from six starts. She made her debut last July, finishing second to Diabolic in the 5 ½ furlong main track My Dear Stakes.
Loaded Vixen, supplemented to the race, has a record of 1-2-1 from eight starts. A daughter of Reload-Asheba, the chestnut filly, bred by Joey Gee Thoroughbreds and owned by Bruno Schickedanz, notched her first win in her most recent start, a 3 ½-length triumph at seven panels on the Woodbine Tapeta on June 17. Trained by Mike Dunslow, the Ontario-bred began her three-year-old campaign with consecutive runner-up efforts.
Maccool’s Girl, a Chiefswood Stables homebred, will be making her stakes debut on Sunday. Trained by Rachel Halden, the daughter of Candy Ride (ARG)-Finn’s Girl took to the turf for her first start this June, a half-length win at 1 1/16 miles. The dark bay heads into the Oaks off a fourth-place finish over 1 1/8 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta on July 2. Halden teamed with Chiefswood and Nipissing to win the 2013 edition of the race.
Pioneer’s Edge, also a Chiefswood Stables homebred, sports a 1-1-0 mark from three appearances. Trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Josie Carroll, the grey daughter of Pioneerof the Nile-Leading Edge was fifth in her most recent start, the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Selene Stakes on July 2. Unraced at two, she won her opener in May, a seven-furlong dash on the Woodbine main track. Carroll won the 2011 Oaks with Inglorious and the 2020 running with Curlin’s Voyage.
Sahlabiya, bred by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc., is set to make her first start outside of the U.S. Trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro-Orchard Beach, owned by Shadwell Stable, has tested the Belmont turf courses in both of her races, a third to kick-off her career on May 1 and a runner-up performance on June 17.
Sister Seagull, a homebred for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry, will load into the starting gate off a maiden-breaking win on June 5. The daughter of Hard Spun-Sweet Kitten notched a 2 ¾-length victory at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Catherine Day Phillips, who won the 2016 Oaks with Neshama and the 2018 edition with the Fitzhenrys’ Dixie Moon, the chestnut, 1-0-1 from five starts, is making her stakes debut on Sunday.
Swoop to Finish, a daughter of American Pharoah-Swoop and Strike, could deliver Sam-Son Farm, the leading owner in Oaks history, its ninth win. Trained by Gail Cox, the dark bay filly made her first trip to the winner’s circle in her most recent appearance, a 2 ¼-length victory at 1 1/16 miles over Woodbine’s Inner Turf on June 16. Fashioning a record of 1-1-0 from four starts, she will be taking her first shot at stakes company on Sunday.
The Woodbine Oaks is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, which continues at the Toronto oval with the 1 1/16-mile Bison City Stakes on August 14 and concludes with the Wonder Where Stakes at 1 ½ miles over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on September 11.
The Grade 2 $200,000 Dance Smartly Stakes, for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, marks the start of the lucrative Ladies of the Lawn Series. Launched in 2019, the series consists of three premier turf races for fillies and mares, the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, Grade 2 Canadian Stakes and Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes. If a horse sweeps all three legs, the winning owner receives a $250,000 bonus.
For more information on the Ladies of the Lawn Series, click here.
First race post time for Sunday’s stakes-filled program is 1:00 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.
$500,000 WOODBINE OAKS PRESENTED BY BUDWEISER (Race 9)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Swoop to Finish – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Gail Cox
2 – Souper Flashy – Luis Contreras – Kevin Attard
3 – Moira – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
4 – Loaded Vixen – Patrick Husbands – Mike Dunslow
5 – Maccool’s Girl – Steven Bahen – Rachel Halden
6 – Sahlabiya – Kazushi Kimura – Chad Brown
7 – Sister Seagull – Antonio Gallardo – Catherine Day Phillips
8 – Bizymaline – Declan Carroll – Santino Di Paola
9 – Curlin Candy – Gary Boulanger – Mike De Paulo
10 – Pioneer’s Edge – Justin Stein – Josie Carroll