Dixie Moon upsets Wonder Gadot to capture $500,000 Woodbine Oaks race


TORONTO — A relaxed approach earned Dixie Moon and jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva a huge win in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks on Saturday.

Da Silva rode Dixie Moon to a stunning victory over favourite Wonder Gadot in the opening race of the Canadian Triple Tiara. Wonder Gadot, the 1/5 favourite, was last at one point but jockey Patrick Husbands moved the filly to within striking distance of the lead down the stretch at Woodbine Racetrack.

But Da Silva and Dixie Moon, the 3/1 second choice, were able to keep Wonder Gadot at bay and secure the victory by a head in 1:50.38.

“My plan was trying to relax her as much as I could and she was running very, very relaxed,” Da Silva said. “I pushed her a little bit early because I knew she was going to have a good finish.

“In my mind, I knew (Wonder Gadot) was going to come. And Patrick was smart, he was watching me and she came and both horses ran a fabulous race.”

Hot Cash was third in the five-horse field.

“Eurico had her in a good position,” said winning trainer Catherine Day Phillips. “She had a nice, clean trip and she just gave it all.

“Her biggest strength is in her heart. She’s just a lovely filly.”

Dixie Moon and Wonder Gadot both served notice they’d be capable of running with the boys in the $1-million Queen’s Plate. Dixie Moon’s Oak-winning time was faster than the 1:50.40 Telekinesis posted in going wire-to-wire to capture the $125,000 Plate Trial Stakes.

Both the Oaks and Plate Trial were run over 1 1/8 miles on Woodbine’s Tapeta course. But Day Phillips said she’ll take a wait-and-see approach regarding the Queen’s Plate.

Dixie Moon earned her third victory in four races this year and fourth in eight career starts. The $300,000 winner’s share more than doubled the $285,136 she’d earned heading into Saturday’s running.

Dixie Moon paid $8.60 and $2.10. Wonder Gadot returned $2.10.

Ontario-bred Wonder Gadot, Canada’s champion two-year-old filly last year, was second by a half-length to Monomoy Girl in the US$1-million Kentucky Oaks on May 4. That’s the best finish by a Canadian-bred horse in the race since Gal in A Ruckus won in 1995.

“She ran good,” Husbands said. “She broke flat footed and walked out the gate so we had to try to get back within striking distance.

“But she ran a good race.”

Telekinesis, the 2/5 favourite surged to the lead from the start, then held off a determined Rose’s Vision, a 22/1 longshot, down the stretch. He also gave winning trainer Mark Casse a second viable Plate runner to join Flameaway, who ran in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Telekinesis, Flameaway and Wonder Gadot held the top three spots in the Winterbook, a hypothetical listing that offered early odds on the 109 three-year-olds, 95 colts and geldings, as well as the 14 fillies nominated to the ’18 Canadian Triple Crown

Aheadbyacentury was third in the seven-horse field.

The Plate Trial is a prep race for the Plate, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, which goes June 30 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Telekinesis, who broke from the No. 2 post, won his initial start at Woodbine and second in four career starts. The three-year-old has never finished out of the money (two wins, second, third).

Husbands earned his third career Plate Trial win (2000 aboard Pete’s Sake, 2011 with Check Your Soul) while Casse secured his second race victory (2013 with Dynamic Sky).

Telekinesis paid $2.90, $2.40 and $2.10 while Rose’s Vision returned $9.20 and $5. Aheadbyacentury paid $2.90.

There were concerns following the race when a vet was called for last-place finisher Silent Sting. But the horse remained upright throughout and upon being hosed down walked around easily before being led off the track under his own power.

Casse had another winner in the $100,000 Alywow Stakes as Road to Victory earned the 1 1/2-length victory to remain unbeaten.

The 6/5 favourite won her third career start with Gary Boulanger aboard in the 6 1/2 furlong turf race for three-year-old fillies.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: UPDATES throughout.