In a late charge, Stronach Stables' homebred Holy Helena stormed down the middle of the Woodbine stretch to defeat 11 others by a length in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser June 11. Watch Video
"I got a nice trip," jockey Luis Contreras said of their victory. "The filly helped me a lot the whole way. I was nice, and comfortable, sitting outside and then she gave me everything."
In the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies, the daughter of Ghostzapper raced in a tight group toward the front of the field as Stallion Heiress lead through fractions of :23.6 and :47.03 for a half-mile. Heading into the second turn, graded stakes placed and second betting choice Enstone went to the outside of the tiring frontrunner as Mythical Mission and Holy Helena followed her move. Inflexibility, the 5-2 favorite, still remained at the back of the first group.
With six furlongs going in 1:12.18, Mythical Mission pulled away from Enstone and was immediately challenged by Holy Helena to her outside. After a minor stretch battle, Holy Helena pulled away from the rival to cross the wire first. The final time was 1:50.18 on an all weather track rated fast.
Off at 6-1, Holy Helena returned $14, $7.10, and $4.90 across the board.
The Jimmy Jerkens trainee entered the Woodbine Oaks on a three-quarter length score in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Belmont Park in May. She finished second on her debut in April at Aqueduct Racetrack going six furlongs.
Bred in Ontario, Holy Helena is out of the winning Holy Bull mare Holy Grace.
"She has beautiful breeding. The bottom side, it’s a great family," said owner/breeder Frank Stronach, adding that he would evaluate the filly after Sunday's race to determine whether or not she will be pointed toward the July 2 Queen's Plate Stakes.
In the 1 1/8-mile test over the Tapeta, State of Honor lead the six-horse field of 3-year-olds through fractions of :24.01, :48.66, and 1:12.55 for six furlongs, with Expedition and Avie's Mesa tracking close in second and third respectively. With a mile in 1:37.89, State of Honor maintained a half-length advantage into the stretch but began to tire as King and His Court moved up the rail and 20-1 longshot Guy Caballero, who was three-wide on both turns, rallied down the center of the track and hit the wire first. The final time was 1:51.32.
King and His Court was a half-length back in second, with State of Honor holding on for third.
Ridden by Rafael Hernandez and trained by Catherine Phillips, the gelded son of Quality Road now has a 2-1-1 record from six starts, with earnings of $111,948 following his first stakes score Sunday.