TORONTO, November 3, 2018— Three-year-old filly A. A. Azula’s Arch earned the biggest win of her career defeating older mares, including the streaking graded stakes winner Gamble’s Ghost, in the $125,000 Maple Leaf Stakes (Grade 3) on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
While Not Taken set a moderate pace in the 1-1/4-mile event, A. A. Azula’s Arch stalked the leader racing outside of the forwardly placed Giada Vegas. The field began to stack wide in the final turn with A. A. Azula’s Arch taking a short lead into the stretch. She held off late-closer Lift Up by a neck in 2:05.23 with even-money favourite Gamble’s Ghost, the defending champion, finishing gamely just a half-length back between the top pair.
“She was exactly where I got asked to put her and she took me there on her own,” said winning jockey Omar Moreno, who earned his first stakes win of the meet and second Maple Leaf title after taking the 2011 edition with Masked Maiden. “She was quite comfortable, so I just let her be and run her race.
“She never quit on me. Even galloping out, she wanted to keep going again. She has a big heart.”
Owned by A & A Farms and trained by Kevin Attard, the Arch-Song of Solomon filly has exceeded her connections’ expectations for her sophomore season with the graded stakes victory.
“Omar rode her wonderfully,” said Attard of the Kentucky-bred filly who has won three of her nine career starts. “She’s a filly that we knew would get the distance. I think that’s key when you’re going this far. We expect a lot out of her. Next year, I think she’s going to be a better horse.”
Sent postward at odds of 16-1, A. A. Azula’s Arch paid $34.10, $13.60 and $5.90. She combined with Lift Up ($7.60, $3.90) for a $223 exacta. With Gamble’s Ghost ($2.50) third and Bletchley fourth, the trifecta paid $415.25 and the superfecta paid $1,760.30 for $1 tickets.
Bletchley had edged out Pamina, the other three-year-old filly in the field, in a photo for fourth while Mythical Mission, Empressof The Nile, Not Taken, Giada Vegas and the Attard-trained Trini Brewette completed the order of finish. Summer Luck was scratched.