Stronach Stable’s homebred Holy Helena earned her first stakes triumph on Sunday at Woodbine when taking the $372,440 Woodbine Oaks by a length under jockey Luis Contreras.
Holy Helena settled between runners just behind Stallion Heiress and Miss Adele, who led the way around the first turn. As the field separated itself on the backstretch, Contreras angled Holy Helena wide, but the duo remained between runners.
Rounding the turn, the Ghostzapper filly circled rivals wide before angling to the rail and then back out again in the stretch. Rallying down the center of the track, she reeled in new leader Mythical Mission to score by a length in a final time of 1:50.18 for nine furlongs on the all-weather Tapeta.
Mythical Mission was best of the rest, six lengths up on 5-2 favorite Inflexibility, who in turn had a head to spare on fourth-placer Enstone. Completing the order of finish were Cindervella, Ellan Vannin, Financial Recover, Gertie T, Ghostly, Inspired Vow, Stallion Heiress and Miss Adele.
Sent off the 6-1 fourth choice in the 12-strong field, Holy Helena paid $14 for the win. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the dark bay lass improved her record to 3-2-1-0, $279,750. Holy Helena kicked off her career at Aqueduct on April 15, finishing second, and broke her maiden last out on May 12 at Belmont Park by three parts of a length.
WOODBINE OAKS QUOTES
Frank Stronach, owner Holy Helena, winner
“She has beautiful breeding. The bottom side, it’s a great family.”
Luis Contreras, jockey Holy Helena, winner
“I got a nice trip. The filly helped me a lot the whole way. I was nice, and comfortable, sitting outside and then she gave me everything.”
Malcolm Pierce, trainer Mythical Mission, second
“It was a huge effort. She couldn’t have done anything better but win. She ran her eyeballs out today. We just got outrun the last few jumps. No excuses. We ran our race.”
Joel Rosario, jockey Inflexibility, third
“The trip was good. She broke well and was up a little close but she wanted to be there. It was fine, and she was comfortable, but it felt like it took her a little bit of time to find the new surface. She’s a very nice filly.”
Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s homebred Guy Caballero bided his time in last in the $92,813 Plate Trial Stakes earlier on the card before rallying in the lane to score the half-length upset as the 20-1 second longest shot in the field.
Running wide down the backstretch under jockey Rafael Hernandez, the Quality Road gelding was still last entering the turn. Circling the entire field, he set his sights on pacesetter and even-money favorite State of Honor. Guy Caballero kept motoring to finish first in a final time of 1:51.32 for 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta.
King and His Court slid up along the rail to nip State of Honor for second by a neck. Tiz a Slam followed in fourth while Avie’s Mesa and Expedition completed the order under the wire.
Guy Caballero paid $42.60 for his first stakes win. The Catherine Day Phillips trainee is now 6-2-1-1 in his career, including a third-placing in the last year’s Display Stakes to close out his juvenile campaign, and has banked $111,948 in lifetime earnings.
PLATE TRIAL QUOTES
Catherine Day Phillips, trainer Guy Caballero, winner
“He was ready to run, but he certainly wasn’t at his best in his first race. He’d trained well since, and he had five weeks between his last race and this race. But he hadn’t run recently against this type of horses. I was confident that he’d run a good race but I wasn’t sure how he would stack up.”
Rafael Hernandez, jockey Guy Caballero, winner
“I got a good trip. That’s what (trainer) Catherine (Day Phillips) and I were talking about; just get a good break and relax the horse – just put him clear in the turn, and make sure he got a clear trip and give it everything he had in the stretch. He sure showed up today.”
Mark Casse, trainer King and His Court (2nd) and State of Honor (3rd)
“State of Honor ran big because he missed a little time after (finishing 19th in) the (May 6 Kentucky) Derby (G1). I told the Conrads (owner/breeders Manfred and Penny Conrad) that this race should help him. There’s still the question if he can go a mile and a quarter.
“He looked like he was lumbering today. Some days he comes with a big kick and today he was lumbering.”
The stakes action at Woodbine got underway Sunday when Big Lick Farm’s Queen del Valle pulled off a half-length victory at 13-1 in the $77,964 Alywow Stakes.
Trained by Reid Nagle and ridden by Edgard Zayas, the chestnut daughter of Baryshnikov set a new course record when completing 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm turf in 1:12.93. She paid $29.40 while extending her current win streak to four straight.
Queen del Valle opened her career with a third-placing at Gulfstream Park on the main track, then was claimed and switched to turf. The sophomore lass proceeded to run up a five-race winning skein, separated from her current stroke only by a half-length fourth-placing in an optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs on December 16 to close out her two-year-old season.
Queen del Valle now boasts an 11-9-0-1, $185,436, career line.
Edgard Zayas, jockey Queen del Valle, winner
“I heard that the track was a little fast, and speed holds a little bit. I tried to stay close to the pace. She’s very game; she’s a very nice filly.
“She’s done everything right; she’s done everything we’ve asked her to. It was a nice step up in class for her, and she handled it pretty nice.”
Reid Nagle, trainer Queen del Valle, winner
“She knows where the wire is, and Edgard (Zayas) fits her perfectly.”