Moonlit Beauty leads all the way to win the Maple Leaf.

Moonlit Beauty leads all the way to win the Maple Leaf.

Michael Burns

Moonlit Beauty Makes the Grade in Maple Leaf

William Gierkink's homebred wins her first graded stakes at Woodbine.

Moonlit Beauty did in the Nov. 2 Maple Leaf Stakes (Can-III) what the 7-year-old daughter of Perigee Moon does best—win races gate to wire (VIDEO).

The chestnut homebred for William Gierkink shot the front of the nine-horse Maple Leaf field at Woodbine Race Course and never saw another horse. Though John Oxley's determined homebred Dixie Strike closed ground against the winner in the stretch, Moonlit Beauty had a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths advantage at the wire.

Trained by John LeBlanc Jr. and ridden by Gary Boulanger, Moonlit Beauty took the field through pedestrian fractions of :24.60, :49.87, and 1:15.12. The rider and Moonlit Beauty then quickened the pace a notch after a 1:39.96 mile to opened up a 2 1/2-length lead in the stretch. They crossed the wire after 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.89.

The winner, having been dismissed at 25-1 odds over favorite Dixie Strike and 5-2 Oxley homebred Sky High Lady, paid $53.10, $18.90, and $10.30. Dixie Strike paid $4.10 and $2.70. Sky High Lady was another two lengths back in third and paid $3.10. The $2 exacta paid $190.90, and the $2 trifecta paid $701.60.

Moonlit Beauty came into the race off a similar performance Sept. 29 in the 1 1/16-mile Classy 'n Smart Stakes, in which she hit the mile mark in 1:15 and captured her fifth lifetime stakes victory. As the lone frontrunner in the Maple Leaf, she was able to dictate the pace.

Boulanger, riding Moonlit Beauty for the first time, appreciated LeBlanc's pre-race instructions.

"Everything John told me about her was dead on," said Boulanger. "She was very professional and relaxed today. It was a nice clip, she was doing it easy. At the half-mile pole she started picking it up and from the quarter-pole home she really sprinted."

The Maple Leaf Stakes is the first graded stakes victory for Moonlit Beauty, who was co-highweight carrying 121 pounds and has now won four stakes wire-to-wire since July 2012.

Reconnect, who defeated Moonlit Beauty in a much more quickly run Belle Mahone Stakes Aug. 25, finished fourth in the Maple Leaf, followed by Final Escrow, And Why Not, Pure Blue Sky, Logan's Peak, and Peche Mobilee.