ELMONT, NY – Holy Helena won her third straight when she cruised past the rest of the field in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park. Holy Helena, who is owned by Stronach Stables and trained by James A. Jerkens, is now a multiple graded stakes winner after adding this victory to her win last time out in the G3 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream in March.
All horses broke well from the gate to take on the grueling 1 3/8 mile race on the Belmont turf. Palinodie worked to the front to set the early pace while Lottie sat behind her just off of the pace. The 7-5 post-time favorite Holy Helena was comfortable to sit back in fifth and Santa Monica sat at the rear while the horses on the front did all of the work. The early fractions were :24.85 and :50.24.
The front-running Palinodie faced little pressure until the horses entered the second turn. Lottie was the first to challenge for the lead and was joined by Estrechada who moved up three-wide as they entered the stretch. Holy Helena, with jockey Manuel Franco aboard, took her time to make her move, waiting until the horses were already well into the stretch before she moved up from mid-pack and cruised to the front. Once Holy Helena grabbed the lead, there wasn’t a horse out there that was going to pass her as she cruised to the wire to win by a comfortable 1/2 length. Lottie finished second, a nose ahead of Santa Monica who finished third with Palinodie close behind in fourth.
“I [thought] if we’re going to Florida anyway, we might as well freshen her up a little bit and try the turf and see if she likes it,” said trainer James Jerkens. “There was nothing to lose. They always feel like if a horse likes the synthetic they’ll like the turf and vice versa, so I didn’t see any downside to it. It worked out.”
Holy Helena returned $4.80 to win, $3.30 to place, and $2.30 to show. Lottie brought back $5.70 to place and $3.00 to show, while Santa Monica paid $2.30 to show.