Thrilling finish for Roan Inish

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:09 PM ET

First she had to chase down the superstar filly, the unbeaten one handled expertly by this year’s Kentucky Derby-winning trainer.

Next up for Roan Inish was the game outsider owned by one of the most popular athletes ever to play pro sports in Toronto.

She got them both and the biggest chunk of the money, too, on Sunday in a thrilling finish to the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, the filly answer to the Queen’s Plate.

The stretch was just long enough for Roan Inish to complete her historic run and record a head victory over runner-up Moment of Majesty.

It was ladies’ day all around at the Rexdale track as the talented filly helped trainer Carolyn Costigan become the first woman to win the storied race. Not only that, Moment of Majesty, who is bred and co-owned by former Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph, is trained by another woman, Sue Leslie.

Owned by her breeder, Robert Costigan, and trained by his daughter, Roan Inish was full value for the win and even more so for those who backed her. With the undefeated and heavily favoured Embur’s Song taking bucket loads of money before finishing third, Roan Inish returned a tasty $25.80 to win.

“We’ll go back to the barn and see how she is,” Carolyn Costigan said when asked the logical question — will she return on July 4 to run in front of Queen Elizabeth herself in the 151st edition of the Plate? “She’s a horse that loves a dog-fight.

“If it’s right for her, we’ll look at taking on the boys.”

That Roan Inish and jockey Davy Moran earned that shot at the expense of one of the best trainers in the game will only add to the accomplishment for the Costigans.

American Todd Pletcher, who has won most of the sport’s biggest events including this year’s Derby with Super Saver, was at Woodbine to saddle Embur’s Song, the phenom many were touting as a potential superstar after just two career starts.

When she ran out of gas in the stretch, however, it was anybody’s race.

That set up the duel between Roan Inish and Moment of Majesty as the pair crossed the wire as a team in a time of 1:50.53 for the 11/8 miles. Despite faltering late, Pletcher wouldn’t rule out a return trip to Woodbine for the Plate, even though the filly is lightly raced and laboured late.

“I think, it’s worth considering,” Pletcher said of the Plate, which is an eighth of a mile longer. “She seems to like the track here at Woodbine. If we can work on getting her to relax a little, it’s worth taking a shot.”

Of course, a Plate purse of $1.5 million might factor into Pletcher’s decision. That and the fact there are no real standouts picture after longshot Big Red Mike took down a couple of highly touted colts in Sunday’s Plate Trial.

As for the Oaks, it was heartbreak for the runner-up Moment of Majesty, who came that close to giving Leslie, Joseph and agent Don Meehan the biggest win in their career as partners.

“It would have been nice to win for Sue, Donny and Curtis, but she showed she had a lot of ability,” jockey Rob Landry said. “Hopefully she can show it in the future.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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