Holy Helena secures half-length victory in Sheepshead Bay

Press Release
May 03, 2018 09:02pm
Holy Helena wins 2018 Sheepshead Bay
Photo: Annette Jasko/NYRA
Stronach Stable's newly minted millionaire Holy Helena earned her third straight turf win of the year, kicking on late to secure a half-length victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay, as Race 6, the first of three stakes races Saturday at Belmont Park. 

Off as the 6-5 favorite in the 1 3/8-mile turf route, the 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly settled in mid-pack along the rail as Palinodie took the field of seven through an opening quarter mile in 24.85 seconds and a half in 50.24. Palinodie, tracked by Lottie and Estretchada, maintained her lead as six furlongs went in 1:15.86 and the mile in 1:41.20, while Holy Helena launched a four-wide bid through the final turn under jockey Manny Franco and charged down the lane to prevail over a tightly bunched group.

Lottie was second, a nose ahead of Santa Monica in third, while Palinodie was another half-length back in fourth. Estrechada, Peru, and Summersault completed the order of finish.

The final time was 2:15.15 on firm ground. Holy Helena returned $4.80 for a $2 win wager.

The win was her sixth in nine starts for career earnings of $1,009,333. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the Ontario-bred rattled off three straight wins last spring and summer, including a victory over males in the Queens Plate on Woodbine's Tapeta course. She followed that effort with a try over the Saratoga dirt in the Grade 1 Alabama, finishing eighth, before closing out her sophomore campaign with a hard-fought runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby in October. Holy Helena's connections opted to make a switch to the turf this winter at Gulfstream Park, which produced back-to-back wins for the filly, including a 1 ¾-length score in the Grade 3 The Very One on March 3.

"When it came time to go to Florida, it was, 'well, should we turn her out for the winter' and stuff like that; try her back on the dirt or send her back to Canada?'" said Jerkens. "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. 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."

Convento Viejo's Chilean-bred Robert Bruce kept his perfect record intact with his first North American victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf in Race 10. 

Under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, Robert Bruce tracked the early pace, settling two lengths behind the pacesetting Blacktype, who led through fractions of 24.72, 50.26, and 1:14.34. Robert Bruce waited briefly for running room in mid-stretch and spurted between rivals to win by three-quarters of a length ahead of Spring Quality. Lucullan, Ticonderoga, Silverware, Manitoulin, Blacktype, Markitoff, and Small Bear completed the order of finish.

The 4-year-old colt by Fast Company was 6-for-6 in his native Chile, including four stakes wins, before being transferred to trainer Chad Brown.

"I worked him one time over at Palm Meadows, and I loved him, he looked like he was a real classy horse, and you could tell by his form he's a champion, and today he proved it," said Gaffalione.


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