Nine fillies and mares, including Queen’s Plate winner Moira, will vie for top prize in the Grade 1 $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, up from $600,000 last year, part of a stellar stakes-filled Saturday card of racing at Woodbine.
The E.P. Taylor, a 1 ¼-mile turf test for fillies & mares, 3-year-olds and upward, is complemented by the Grade 2 $250,000 Nearctic, a 6-furlong grass engagement for 3-year-olds and upward, and the Grade 3 $150,000 Durham Cup, a 1 1/16-mile main track test for 3-year-olds and upward.
Woodbine’s Inner Turf Course will also be highlighted on the 11-race card with the running of the $150,000 Woodbine Cares Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies, and the $150,000 Ontario Racing Stakes, for 2-year-olds. Both will be run at 5 furlongs.
Trained by Kevin Attard for X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables LLC and SF Racing LLC, Moira, a bay daughter of Ghostzapper-Devine Aida, will be testing out the turf for the first time.
She’ll also be chasing history as no filly has ever turned the Plate-Taylor double to date.
Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Moira romped to victory in the 163rd running of the Queen’s Plate on August 21, a seven-length tour de force that came three weeks after a 10 ¾-length, head-turning performance in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser.
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With the win, Moira became the eighth filly to notch the Oaks-Plate double, joining such greats as Dance Smartly, Flaming Page, Holy Helena, Inglorious, and Lexie Lou.
Moira, who has won all three of her 2022 engagements, is now 4-1-0 from five career starts.
The decision to run her in the E.P. Taylor was made after several discussions between her connections.
“Obviously, it’s a big step up and on a surface she’s never run on before, but she’s always responded to every challenge,” said Attard. “We were very happy with her work on the course and after we talked about our options, we made the decision to run here.”
In a pair of 2-year-old starts she won the Princess Elizabeth and was second in the Grade 3 Mazarine, earning a Sovereign nomination for champion 2-year-old filly.
Moira’s been even more impressive in her sophomore campaign.
“She’s had a great year and hopefully that continues,” said Attard. “We’re very lucky to have such a talented horse.”
X-Men Racing is a syndicate of racing friends put together by high-profile bloodstock agent Donato Lanni. The group is comprised of Lanni, Robert LeBlanc, Steve Heimbecker, Clay Horner, David Anderson, John Fielding, Alexandra Verret, Daniel Plouffe, Gabriel Dimiele, and American Nick Pelligreen.
Lanni took to Twitter shortly after it was announced Moira would be running in the E.P. Taylor: “Looking forward to Saturday! Thank you for all the love and support!”
Attard, who sent out Moira to work 5 panels on the E.P. Taylor, in 1:01.20, breezing, on October 1, echoed the same sentiment.
“The support we’ve received from our fans here at Woodbine has been amazing,” said the winner of 639 career races, who will also send out 4-year-old Munnyfor Ro in the E.P. Taylor. “We really appreciate it and hope everyone will come out and cheer Moira on.”
Mylady a Threat to Moira
Standing in Moira’s way is a salty group of turf talents, including fellow 3-year-old filly Mylady (GER).
Bred and owned by Gestut Karlshof, the daughter of The Grey Gatsby (IRE)-Minoris (FR) heads into her first start outside of Germany off a third-place finish, just three-quarters of a length behind the winner, highly regarded Toskana Belle, in the Group 1 German Oaks on August 7.
Trained by Markus Klug, Mylady (GER) sports a record of 3-1-1 from seven starts.
“I think she is the best horse I have ever sent over here,” said owner Holger Faust (Gestut Karlshof), part of German-based connections who have raced starters at Woodbine in the past, including 2019 Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International runner-up Alounak. “The thing about her is that she runs all the classic races in Germany, and unfortunately, we found out in the German Derby that she does not stay the distance, the 12 furlongs.
“In the German Oaks, we tried her out at 2,200 metres, and she came, she was there, but in the last furlong she struggled and was just following the first two horses. So, after that, we had the impression that maybe the 10 furlongs suits her best because her three wins have all been in that range. Now, we feel we have found the perfect distance for her.”
Mylady (GER) was an efficient debut winner last August, besting six rivals in a 7 ½-furlong race at Mulheim. It was the start of three straight victories.
Faust, also the manager of Darius Racing, believes the grey will appreciate the long turf stretch at Woodbine.
“She’s a very honest filly and a very easy to handle filly because she’s run on many different courses, left-hand, right-hand, and they all suited her. She’s run every type of ground. The only time when she was disappointing was in the [Group 2] 2000 German Guineas against the colts and that was because she had an infection. All the other races, she finished well, and she did run at her best.
“I don’t worry about the course at all. She travelled well and the groom said she was drinking well and very quiet on the flight. She and the groom, they really like the stables at Woodbine. Mylady (GER) is eating well and doing well. So far, knock on wood, everything is fine ahead of the race. I’m excited. Very, very excited because she is my filly, owned by my family. We have raced at Woodbine before and tried many times to get something, and I think if she runs at her best, we have a chance to make it happen on Saturday.”
Canadian Stakes Winner Fev Rover a Threat
Well-travelled Fev Rover (IRE) will make her third straight start at the Toronto oval.
Trained by Mark Casse, the 4-year-old daughter of Gutaifan (IRE)-Laurelita (IRE) heads into Saturday’s engagement off a gutsy nose win in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes on August 21.
One race earlier, the bay, owned by Tracy Farmer, was second to Wakanaka (IRE) in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly.
Fev Rover (IRE) is 3-4-1 from 13 starts.
Other notables include Chad Brown trainees Lemista (IRE) and Rougir (FR), as well as graded stakes winner Adventuring, and Flirting Bridge (IRE), conditioned by Brendan Walsh.
The E.P. Taylor is the final event in Woodbine’s lucrative Ladies of the Lawn Series.
Launched in 2019, Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn is a points-based bonus series that includes three premier turf races for fillies and mares. The owner of the horse who has accumulated the most points upon the conclusion of the three races will receive a $50,000 bonus, while the owner whose horse has accumulated the second and third most points will receive a $15,000 and $10,000 bonus, respectively.