Frank Stronach Stables' Holy Helena put on a show in Saturday's Grade 3 The Very One Stakes, demonstrating a big turn of foot down the stretch to defeat 6-5 favorite Daring Duchess by about two lengths on the wire. The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, ridden by Irad Ortiz, completed 1 3/16 miles on Gulfstream Park's firm turf in 1:54.67. Winner of the Queen's Plate over males last year, Holy Helena is trained by Jimmy Jerkens. She went off at odds of 7-2 in her first graded stakes victory.
“The horse that was on the lead was the horse that we felt would be on the lead,” said Jerkens. “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. She had been training really well. She even got better since her last race. She got a little stronger in her hind quarters. I saw it today. Leaving the paddock, I was pretty confident. I was going to be pretty devastated if she didn't show up.”
Daring Duchess left the starting gates in front, and drew off to a two-length lead around the clubhouse turn. Down the backstretch, the favorite was moving comfortably as she ticked off fractions of :24.28, :49.73, and 1:14.52. Palinodie was tracking from second, while Holy Helena shared the third position with Shezaprado.
Approaching the far turn, Holy Helena made a move up the rail, but had to wait until Palinodie got out a bit turning for home to make her move. When Ortiz gave Holy Helena the signal, she burst forward impressively to take the lead. Striding toward the wire, the filly was an easy winner by about two lengths. Daring Duchess was an even-running second, while Palinodie held on to finish third. Empressof the Nile was fourth.
“She broke good and put me in a good position,” Ortiz said. “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 one mile and three-sixteenths 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.”
Bred in Ontario by Stronach's Adena Springs, Holy Helena is out of a winning daughter of Holy Bull. The filly won both the Woodbine Oaks and the Queen's Plate, but did not win again until an allowance race in February at Gulfstream. The Very One is her first graded stakes win, and improves her record to five wins from eight starts with earnings of nearly $900,000.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.