Plate Winner Moira Begins 2023 Season in Belle Mahone

The 2022 Queen's Plate winner Moira makes her first start of 2023 in the CA$150,000 Belle Mahone Stakes (G3) at Woodbine June 3. Moira was last year's Canadian Horse of the Year after a 3-for-5 campaign at age 3 in which she also took the Woodbine Oaks and Fury Stakes for Canadian-breds. She has not started since a fifth-place finish in the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T) at Keeneland. That was one of two open-company starts in 2022 for the popular Ghostzapper filly, with her other start coming in the Oct. 8 E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine, where she was demoted from second to eighth for interference. Blocked in traffic through midstretch in the E.P. Taylor, she dove to the inside under Rafael Hernandez and bumped a rival, leading to her disqualification. Leading Woodbine jockey Kazushi Kimura rides the 4-year-old filly Saturday in the Belle Mahone. Frankie Dettori was aboard last out in the Breeders' Cup for owners X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables, and SF Racing. "There are a lot of things that stand out from last year," trainer Kevin Attard said. "Watching her win the Oaks and Plate, and doing it the way she did, was so impressive. And to see the outpouring of affection from fans meant the world to all of us. And to see her efforts recognized at the Sovereigns was extremely humbling." The previous year at age 2, the Adena Springs-bred Moira won the 2021 Princess Elizabeth Stakes in her debut and then was second in the Mazarine Stakes (G3) to conclude her season. Moira starts from the inside post against eight rivals in the Belle Mahone, a 1 1/16-mile race on Woodbine's synthetic Tapeta track. She has been breezing steadily over the Tapeta there this spring. "We're all excited to see Moira start her season," Attard said. "She's obviously a very special and extremely talented individual. She had a great winter and she's looked sharp ahead of this race. She's continued to mature, and hopefully she can start things off on a winning note." Live Oak Plantation's Souper Hoity Toity leads the opposition and has the benefit of a start this year. A close seventh on turf in the Sand Springs Stakes at Gulfstream Park April 1, she returns to a Woodbine main track over which she has won three of five starts, recording one of those victories in the 2022 Selene Stakes (G3). Other starters include multiple stakes winner Il Malocchio and Godolphin homebred Purrfect.