Stronach Stables' homebred mare Holy Helena provided Queen's Plate attendees with a flashback to 2017 this Saturday, emulating her winning performance in the Canadian Classic with a win on the 2019 undercard in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes. The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, ridden by Javier Castellano for his second graded win on the card, covered 1 1/4 miles over Woodbine's E.P. Taylor turf course rated “good” in 2:02.08. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the 1 1/4-length winner was sent to post as the 6-5 favorite in a field of eight.
“I liked the way she did it today, the way she settled,” said Castellano. “I didn't panic at the three-eighths 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.”
Rock My Love, who bore out after breaking from the outside, recovered quickly to open up on her Dance Smartly rivals and led the field through tepid fractions of :26.24, :51.41, and 1:15.74.
Holy Helena had remained in touch while stalking the pace just off the rail but was held in reserve as Get Explicit launched a strong rally to move past and challenge Rock My Love.
Rock My Love continued to lead with Get Explicit closest attendance and was still second as the mile went by in 1:38.60 as Castellano sat chilly.
Holy Helena, who was just starting to get serious at that point, was on the march but still trailed Rock My Love by 1 ½ lengths with a furlong to run. Nonetheless, Holy Helena finished well to hit the wire 1 1/4 lengths the best.
Starship Jubilee, making her third consecutive Dance Smartly appearance and dead heat winner of the 2017 edition, came from off the pace to finish a second, just a neck before third-place Art of Almost.
The lone three-year-old filly and one of two in the field conditioned by Roger Attfield, Art of Almost stalked the pace throughout and was a good third, 1 ¼ lengths before the weakening Rock My Love.
Empressof the Nile, Get Explicit, Lift Up and the Attfield-trained Cartabianca completed the order of finish.
Bred in Ontario by her owner, Holy Helena is out of the winning Holy Bull mare Holy Grace. The mare was offered for sale at the 2013 Keeneland November sale with Holy Helena in utero, but did not meet her reserve when bidding stopped at $175,000. Holy Helena is a half-sister to G2 winner Holy Boss, and her lifetime record now stands at eight wins from 18 starts, with two seconds and three thirds, for earnings of over $1.3 million.
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