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Jockey Kimura’s Winning Ways Continue

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The sun is certainly not setting this year on the star jockey from the Land of the Rising Sun.

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Last year, Kazushi Kimura became the first Japanese rider to win the Woodbine jockey title. He recorded 138 wins, 54 more than runner-up Rafael Hernandez.

This season, the native of the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, has not missed a beat and proves that his success in 2021 was no accident. After Saturday’s races at the Etobicoke track, Kimura has recorded 39 wins this season, 13 more than Justin Stein, who sits in second place with 26 wins.

Kimura, who won the last race of Saturday’s program on the Patio Party formed by Jamie Attard, also won the most bets so far this year with four. That’s one more than Rafael Hernandez, who won Saturday’s showpiece race, the Stella Artois Fury Stakes, aboard Moira.

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Kimura moved to Canada in 2017 as a teenager with no job, no prospects and very little knowledge of the English language. Two years later, he won the Eclipse Award for Best Apprentice Jockey in North America and the Sovereign Award for Best Apprentice Rider in Canada. Hernandez finished as the top jockey at the Rexdale track in 2020 after perennial leader Eurico Da Silva retired after the 2019 season, then Kimura won in 2021.

The likeable Kimura has won most of the top races at Woodbine, but has yet to win the Queen’s Plate, although fellow countryman Daisuke Fukumoto won Canada’s most prestigious race of 2020 with one-eyed wonder Mighty Heart.

Kimura also has seven wins, 10 seconds and four third-place finishes in 40 starts at Almost Isle Downs (fifth overall) near Erie, Pa. this season where he is racing the dark days at Woodbine.

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Meanwhile, Mark Casse, the Sovereign Award winner as a Canadian Hired Trainer for the past 11 consecutive years (and 14 times overall), stands out in the trainer standings at Woodbine in 2022 with 34 wins, 17 from more than Kevin Attard, who sits in second place. Casse is set to set a Woodbine season record. He has also won three stakes races this season. Casse, who races horses across North America, won 110 races at Woodbine last year, 54 more than runner-up Attard.

Jockey Rafael Hernandez guides Moira (right) to victory over Pioneer's Edge in the $125,000 Stella Artois Fury Stakes at Woodbine on June 11, 2022. Moira is owned by X-Men Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and SF Racing LLC and coached by Kevin Attard.  (photo MICHAEL BURNS)
Jockey Rafael Hernandez guides Moira (right) to victory over Pioneer’s Edge in the $125,000 Stella Artois Fury Stakes at Woodbine on June 11, 2022. Moira is owned by X-Men Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and SF Racing LLC and coached by Kevin Attard. (photo MICHAEL BURNS) Photo by Michael Burns /Woodbine Entertainment

MOIRA HOLDS A FURY LOAD IN THE FURY

It was a thrilling victory for Moira in the $125,000 Stella Artois Fury Stakes on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine, as the Kevin Attard-trained filly held off Pioneer’s edge to win the seven furlong sprint by a head. The Fury Stakes, for three-year-old Canadian-born fillies, are key preparation on the road to this year’s $500,000 Woodbine Oaks on July 24 at Woodbine.

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“She was starting to tire at the end, like I expected,” Attard said of Moira, who made her season debut with the Fury crossing the line in 1:22.81. “I was a little nervous that she was leaving (seven furlongs). But this is only a stepping stone, it is not the ultimate goal.

“This race is going to do wonders for her,” Attard added. “He is a very special horse. She showed talent from the start and I think the sky is the limit.

Moira, with Hernandez in the saddle, rode a four-man rally from near the back of the seven-horse field to take command in the stretch, holding off Pioneer’s Edge, who rallied in the final furlong to finish second. Hernandez recorded three wins on Saturday.

“Today was an important step in getting her ready for the Oaks,” Attard said. “That’s the ultimate goal right now. We had to take him to the races. We were a little behind on 8-ball (this season). Many of these fillies have already raced, and we were making our first start. It was important to have a race in it, and winning makes it even more special. I’m delighted with the way she ran. I think she’s going to come up from this race dramatically. I’m looking forward to the Oaks.

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Moira returned $6.50 and won $75,000 for the partnership of X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables and SF Racing.

In one of horse racing’s intriguing twists, Justin Stein rode Moira in both of her races last year as a two-year-old – a victory in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes and a second in the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes. In Saturday’s Fury Stakes, Stein was on the Pioneer’s Edge trained by Josie Carroll, who nearly caught Moira at the finish line despite a bit of a rough trip. No reason Hernandez was driven on Moira over Stein on Saturday, whether it was a jockey decision or an ownership decision. Everyone was speechless. One thing is certain though, Pioneer’s Edge, who has one win and second in two career starts, looks like a filly with a bright future.

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AROUND THE TRACK

The Woodbine horse racing community comes together on Monday June 20 to hold the ‘Back Stretch Baseball Tournament’ at Paul Coffey Park in Malton to raise money for injured jock Sheena Ryan, who suffered serious injuries in a practice crash in the back stretch last month and had to undergo surgery at Sunnybrook Hospital… Told It All, a 30-1 long shot in Race 5 on Saturday – a race to claim optional $108,700 for ages three and up – had a nice charge under jockey Daisuke Fukumoto in the stretch to beat favorite Swot analysis by a head. Told It All, a five-year-old gelding with four previous wins in 17 starts, is trained by Suzanne Drake. Told It All paid $62.90 for the win.

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