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TORONTO, ON – Stronach Stables’ homebred Holy Helena, third in this race a year ago, turned the tables in a major way on Saturday when she rallied strongly in the stretch to conquer the $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) at Woodbine.
Breaking from the rail under Javier Castellano as the 6/5 favorite, Holy Helena stayed near the inside while tracking early leader Rock my Love, who blitzed to a multiple-lengths advantage through fractions of :26.24, :51.41, and 1:15.75. Heading into the far turn, Get Explicit suddenly rushed up past the inside of Holy Helena and tipped out midway through to challenge for the lead, but her bid was short-lived.
Behind her, a patient Castellano waited until the right moment to unleash Holy Helena. At the top of the stretch, Castellano tipped her out to run three-wide down the stretch, and though Rock my Love was still loose on the lead, she appeared to run out of gas at the final furlong marker. Holy Helena swept past her and had more than enough left to hold sway over Starship Jubilee and Art of Almost for the victory. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee crossed with a 1 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 2:02.08 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the good turf course.
“I liked the way she did it today, the way she settled,” said Castellano, who also won the King Edward Stakes (G2) aboard Synchrony earlier on the card. “I didn’t panic at the 3/8 because somebody moved outside me. I just sat still and made one run. The way she did it (was) phenomenal, the way she finished – unbelievable.”
Starship Jubilee rallied from the rear to take second by a neck over Art of Almost, with Rock my Love yielding late along the rail to finish fourth. Empressof the Nile took fifth over a weakened Get Explicit, while Lift Up and Cartabianca completed the order of finish.
Holy Helena’s win was her second of the year following triumph in The Very One Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park and her first at Woodbine since pulling the Woodbine Oaks–Queen’s Plate double in 2017. The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper improved her record to 18-8-3-2 with $1,307,817 earned.
“I’m saying the Canadian air does a lot of good for her,” said owner Frank Stronach. “(Stronach Stable manager Mike Doyle) had her here for a week and a half and I think things are great – they work well together. Javier is such a great rider. He didn’t panic.”
Holy Helena returned $4.70 to win, $2.70 to place, and $2.50 to show. Starship Jubilee brought back $2.90 to place and $2.70 to show, while Art of Almost paid $5.10 to show.
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