Stronach Stables' Holy Helena will take on males once again in the $125,000 Ontario Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds Oct. 15 at Woodbine in a field that includes Preakness Stakes (G1) third-place finisher Senior Investment.
Slated as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the 1 1/8-mile contest on the all weather track, the Ghostzapper filly will face a solid field of seven colts and geldings as well as one other filly in Grizzel.
After finishing 3 1/2 lengths in front of fellow Ontario Derby entrant Tiz a Slam in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, Holy Helena was unsuccessful in her lone grade 1 attempt against fillies in the Aug. 19 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Holy Helena was tucked just behind the pace throughout that race, but was unable to keep up with the leaders in the stretch and finished eighth.
Prior to that loss Holy Helena tallied three straight wins, including another stakes victory over the Woodbine all weather track in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser June 11. Unraced at 2, the filly had broken her maiden in her second start, taking a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Belmont Park.
A half sister to grade 1-placed Holy Boss , Holy Helena is out of Adena Spring's Holy Bull mare Holy Grace.
Holy Helena is trained by Jimmy Jerkens and will be ridden by Luis Contreras from post 8.
Trainer Kenny McPeek brings Fern Circle Stables' Senior Investment in a drop down from grade 1 company.
Before finishing third at Pimlico in the second leg of the Triple Crown, Senior Investment won Keeneland's Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3) over the now multiple grade 1 winner West Coast. It was only the second loss for West Coast, who has been undefeated since.
After the Preakness, Senior Investment finished a respectable fifth in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1). Switched to turf for the first time, the son of Discreetly Mine finished 10th in his most recent start—the July 8 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T).
Robby Albarado will ride from post 4.
Chiefswood Stable's homebred Tiz a Slam has not won a race since the 2016 Cup and Saucer Stakes at Woodbine, but the Tiznow colt has not finished worse than fifth in six starts in the interim. The Roger Attfield trainee's most recent effort was a fourth-place finish in the Centaur Stakes at Indiana Grand Sept. 6.
Tiz a Slam will leave post 6 with Eurico Rosa Da Silva aboard.
The morning-line second choice at 3-1 is Grizzel, the only other filly in the field who is making a return to synthetic racing. Trained by Michael Doyle for Merriebelle Stable and Anna Doyle, Irish-bred Grizzel had her first North American start in the Feb. 25 Melody of Colors Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The Kodiak filly finished fourth and repeated in the Sanibel Island Stakes April 1.
After moving to Woodbine, Grizzel knocked out two wins in a row on the all-weather course, taking an allowance and then adding the grade 3 Selene Stakes at 1 1/16 miles May 21. After a fifth-place effort in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G3T) at 1 1/4 miles, Grizzel returned to Woodbine where she finished second to Enstone in the Ontario Colleen Stakes (G3T) at a mile on turf.
In her most recent effort Grizzel finished fourth in the Canadian Stakes (G2T) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Ridden by David Moran, Grizzel is set to exit post 2.