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TORONTO, ON – Munnyfor Ro, under a patient ride from Justin Stein, took the 66th running of the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser Sunday at Woodbine.
Trained by Kevin Attard for Raroma Stable Inc., Munnyfor Ro was the last to load in the first leg of the Triple Tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies but was first when it counted most, perhaps setting herself up for a shot at Queen’s Plate glory on August 22.
It was Lorena, undefeated in 3 starts coming into the Oaks, who was put on the front end by Gary Boulanger. Emmeline, under Emma-Jayne Wilson, settled into second, with Miss Marie and Il Malocchio racing side by side just off the leaders.
After a 1/4-mile in :24.35, Lorena was still in command as Emmeline, to her outside, remained squarely in contention. Munnyfor Ro, with Justin Stein aboard, was cruising comfortably in eighth spot, and was still there after a 1/2-mile clocked in :48.41.
As the field began to envelop Lorena, Stein and Munnyfor Ro, sixth after 3/4 in 1:12.35, began to pick off their rivals one by one and were full of run around the turn for home. At the stretch call, the pair was a 1/2-length ahead of a determined Emmeline, who continued to fight on along the rail.
At the wire, Munnyfor Ro was a 1 1/4-length winner. Emmeline stayed on for second, a nose ahead of Il Malocchio, with 85/1 Youens taking fourth. The final time was 1:50.31.
Munnyfor Ro, the 3/1 third choice, returned $8.70 for the win.
“I was told the key with her is to have her settled,” noted Stein. “The pace… it looked like there was probably some possibility of them stopping, which we didn’t want to be in behind them. I put her in a spot that we could tip out in the turn when it came time to ask her to run from the quarter-pole home. We had a dream trip; worked out perfect.”
It was an Oaks first for Attard and a second for Stein, who teamed with Academic to take the 2015 running.
“We were expecting a good performance out of her,” said Attard. “She came up here this season in good shape from (trainer) Brian Lynch – had a great campaign over the winter time. She ran a fabulous race in the Selene (G3). I thought she’d move off that race forwardly enough to kind of be really competitive here today. Had a good interim breeze and put it all together.”
For owner Rajendra Maharajh, it was a perfect day from start to finish.
“My good buddy Art Fisher from Ocala picked her out for me,” said Maharajh, who named the horse for his son ‘Ro.’ “She came up here (last year) and ran 2 races. She was a little immature at the time. We sent her down to Florida and gave her the winter off and then with COVID, my other trainer, Brian Lynch, took her over and prepped her up and we were always planning for this race. Brian did a fabulous job getting her ready and then she came over just about a month ago and Kevin did the final touches on her and he did a fabulous job.”
The Oaks win wasn’t the only icing on the cake.
“It’s just a wonderful story and today’s my mom’s 80th birthday,” shared Maharajh. “Everybody is here with us, so it’s a family day and a lovely day.”
The decision to run Munnyfor Ro (now 2-2-2 from 9 starts) in the $1 million Queen’s Plate will be made by the filly’s connections in the coming days.
“These are the races you want to win growing up as a kid here in Ontario,” said Attard. “With Woodbine my home, the Oaks and the Plate are obviously those pinnacle races for those 3-year-olds – just really happy and satisfied to get it done today.
“A mile and 1/4 is going to be her trip; I’m not worried about the distance. We’ll see how she comes out of the race and then we’re going to have to sit down and talk, and see if supplementing her is the next move.”
The Woodbine Oaks has served as a Queen’s Plate stepping-stone for fillies. Oaks-Plate champions include Holy Helena (2017), Lexie Lou (2014), Inglorious (2011), and Dancethruthedawn (2001). In 2018, Oaks runner-up Wonder Gadot went on to win the Queen’s Plate.
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