HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Stronach Stables’ homebred Holy Helena saved all the ground early before exploding off the far turn to bound home first for her first graded stakes score in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking well from post 4 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Holy Helena soon settled to the inside in mid-pack while the favored Daring Duchess set uncontested splits of :24.28, :49.73, and 1:14.52. Holy Helena began making her move through the far turn, and as she hit the top of the stretch, she tipped out and commenced a challenge along the leader’s outside. Using her quick turn of foot, Holy Helena took command in mid-stretch with relative ease, then drew off convincingly to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:54.67 for the 9 1/2-furlong turf event.
“She broke good and put me in a good position,” said Ortiz, Jr. “After that, I just saved ground the whole way following the speed horse and stayed on the rail. When we were in the clear, she exploded. Being 1 mile and 3/16, I just wanted her to relax. I knew she would get the distance. I didn’t want to be too close going in, so I wanted to save ground and wait for our moment.”
Daring Duchess held well enough for second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Palinodie, with Empressof the Nile, Westit, Summersault, and Shezaprado completing the order of finish.
Holy Helena, bred in Ontario by the Stronach-owned Adena Springs, won a pair of nongraded stakes last summer on the synthetic surface at her home track, Woodbine. The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper improved her record to 8-5-2-0 with career earnings of $889,333 for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
“The horse that was on the lead was the horse that we felt would be on the lead,” Jerkens said. “Irad told me he was going to let her settle and save some ground, and that’s what he did. He rode her perfect. Once she got clear, she exploded.”
Holy Helena returned $9.40 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3.40 to show. Daring Duschess brought back $3 to place and $2.20 to show, while Palinodie paid $4.60 to show.