Photo: The Canadian Press
Moira came strong down the home stretch to claim a record $1 million Queen’s Plate victory on Sunday at Woodbine Racecourse. This secured Attard his first career plate title on his sixth attempt.
This victory is the culmination of a childhood dream for Attard. And although he has been a runner-up as Canada’s champion trainer for the past four years and has first year victories at the EP Taylor Stakes, Woodbine Mile and Prince of Wales. Attard compared not winning the plate to a hockey player going his entire career without ever playing for a Stanley Cup champion.
“There were a lot of emotions before this race,” said Attard, his shirt drenched in sweat. “It’s something that I’ve obviously treasured for a long time.
“My goal has always been to try to be the best and I think that puts me in a particular area of trainers. I feel very privileged to be associated with this horse.”
Moira signified last month that she was an undisputed contender for the plate, winning the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks by 10 3/4 lengths. And she did so despite racing without hind shoes following a pre-race incident in the paddock.
“Obviously in horse racing you hope those horses have another performance like that,” Attard said. “I think she’s an improving filly, I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom of her yet.
“She has her quirks, it wasn’t easy for me. She made me sweat. It’s a good thing I sweat more than her.”
As dominant as Moira was on the track, Attard said his horse had a form of pre-race jitters.
“I could see she was getting a little pissed off just because there were so many people,” Attard said. “She knew today was a different day.
“But the beauty of it all is considering everything she’s been doing and going through, she’s able to stay mentally focused and know she still has work to do. I think that’s what defines her as a good horse.”
On Sunday, jockey Rafael Hernandez placed Moira eighth at half a mile and seventh after three quarters of a mile. He placed her third with a quarter mile behind Ironstone and The Minkster before Moira simply took off in the stretch, taking a seven-length victory on a synthetic track and a Plate record time of 2:01.48.
“Raffie told me afterwards, ‘We still had a lot left,'” said Attard, who received a congratulatory phone call from American Triple Crown-winning conditioner Bob Baffert. “I remember Ironstone kind of made an offer on The Minkster and I said, ‘Damn, we’re still a little way off.
“The next thing you know, it’s like she’s engulfing the ground.”
Hernandez earned his second plateau victory after winning the 2015 race aboard Shaman Ghost.
“She gave me another gear,” he said. “When we got home she was amazing. She’s something else. She’s so special.”
Moira became the eighth filly to complete the Oaks-Plate double.
Hall of Dreams was second to Sir for Sure. The rest of the 11-horse field, in order, included: Ironstone; Dancin in Da’nile; roundness; hunting master; duke of love; The Minister; Causin’ Mayhem; and Chamateur.
Moira paid $5.60, $3.40, and $2.90. Hall of Dreams brought in $10.60 and $7.10 while Sir for Sure paid $7.10.
Moira has won all three of her starts in 2022 and reached the winner’s circle for the fourth time in five career races. The exception was a second-place finish in the $156,400 Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes on November 28, 2021 at Woodbine.
Attard comes from a racing family, with his father, Tino, uncle, Sid, and son, Joshua, all in the business as trainers or owners. Last year all four Attards had horses in the Queen’s Plate and Sid Attard dispatched Shamateur after Sunday.
Kevin Attard becomes the second family member to win the Queen’s Plate after Hall of Fame jockey Larry Attard guided Bompago to victory in 1983. But being surrounded by family on Sunday meant the world to Kevin Attard.
“Being in this business and the time spent at the barn, my family sacrifices a lot,” he said. “For them, being there and sharing this moment means a lot.
“When we won the Woodbine Mile (in 2020 with Starship Jubilee) it was just my dad and my son and it was great because my son is such a huge part of my life and is so into horse racing . But my wife wasn’t there, my daughter or my mother, who is probably my biggest supporter.”
But Attard said he wouldn’t be where he is today without his father’s guidance.
“My dad put me in this position,” Kevin Attard said. “He taught me everything I know.
“I think he sacrificed part of his career to put me in a position to be successful while he was training and I was able to start taking back his part of the business. I can’t thank him so much. , I love him so much. “
The second Triple Crown event will be the Prince of Wales Stakes on September 13 at Fort Erie Racecourse.
“Honestly, we didn’t discuss (anything) after this race,” Attard said. “At this point, I don’t know what the next step is.
“Obviously as a local trainer I would love to put my name next to a Triple Crown horse if I could. But again there are a lot of people involved…we will discuss that when the time comes but if I could go for a Triple Crown or try to try to win that would be something pretty special.”
The third and final race will be the Breeders’ Stakes scheduled for October 2 at Woodbine. Wando was Canada’s last Triple Crown winner, accomplishing the feat in 2003.
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