Queen's Plate Champ T J's Lucky Moon in 2003 Debut

(from Woodbine notes)
Seven furlongs may not be the ideal distance for him to make his seasonal debut at Woodbine on Saturday, but trainer Ross Armata Jr. reminds that T J's Lucky Moon, 2002 Queen's Plate winner, knows a thing or two about winning against the odds.

There weren't many people, pundits and patrons alike, who gave T J's Lucky Moon a shot at winning last year's edition of the Queen's Plate. But that's exactly what the son of Tejabo did in the 143rd running of the Canadian classic, to the tune of 82-1.

After a subsequent 10th-place effort in the Prince of Wales Stakes (second jewel in Canadian thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, at Fort Erie), the dark bay was put away for the duration of the 2002 season.

Saturday's one-turn allowance race at the Toronto oval represents more than a few firsts, including the first time T J's Lucky Moon will run under the tutelage of conditioner Armata Jr.

"This isn't his ideal distance, but we wanted to get a race under him," said Armata, who took over the Molinaro Stable string of horses late last year after an amicable parting of the ways between his uncle, Vito, and owner Gino Molinaro's Molinaro Stable. "We're not necessarily looking to win the race, we just want him to finish strong. It would be nice to see him pick up a piece of the prize. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to win it, but I think I'll let him do the talking."

While the one-turn tilt doesn't afford the gelding his preferred distance, the $150,000-added Steady Growth Stakes (1 1/16 mile on May 28 at Woodbine) does, an event Armata Jr. has targeted as T J's next start.

A field of six is set for Saturday's third race, for 3-year-olds and up, including Recite, Open Chronicle, Soaring Free, Majestic Warlock and Mortgage Man.