Stronach Stables’ Holy Helena joined the millionaire’s club on Kentucky Derby Saturday at Belmont Park when rallying for a half-length victory in the $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2).
The Jimmy Jerkens-trained four-year-old bided her time in midpack while saving ground under jockey Manny Franco, angled out to begin her run and was four wide in upper stretch to stop the clock in 2:15.15 for 1 3/8 miles on the firm inner turf.
Holy Helena paid $4.80 as the 7-5 second choice. Lottie ran in second throughout and held that spot by a nose on the wire from 6-5 favorite Santa Monica, who came from last to secure third by a half-length. Palinodie filled out the top four under the line while completing the order of finish were Estrechada, Peru and Summersault.
Holy Helena now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $1,009,333 to go along with a 9-6-2-0 career mark. The Ghostzapper filly is three-for-three on the year, having captured an allowance/optional claimer in her February 4 opener and The Very One Stakes (G3) on March 3, both at Gulfstream Park. Those were her first starts on turf, making her a triple threat now on grass, dirt and synthetic tracks.
“When it came time to go to Florida (over the winter), 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?'” Jerkens said. “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.”
Recently honored with a Sovereign Award as Canada’s 2017 champion three-year-old filly, Holy Helena prevailed against the boys last year in the Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, as well as taking the Woodbine Oaks against other fillies.
Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Holy Helena is out of the Holy Bull mare Holy Grace, making her a half-sister to Grade 2 victor Holy Boss. Her fifth dam is the blue-hen mare Missy Baba.
Five races after the Sheepshead Bay, Charles E. Fipke’s homebred Tale of Silence gutted out a nose triumph in the $196,000 Westchester Stakes (G3) in a four-horse blanket finish on the wire.
The eight-furlong contest marked the return of last year’s Preakness Stakes (G1) hero Cloud Computing, and the near 6-5 favorite rated as Conquest Big E jumped to a big lead through the opening quarter before gearing down a bit on the backstretch. Tale of Silence meanwhile raced one removed from the rear of the five-horse field until roused by jockey Dylan Davis heading into the lane.
It was anybody’s race in the stretch, with Tale of Silence sticking his nose in front of Vulcan’s Forge, who in turn had his nose in front of Tommy Macho, who in turn had his head in front of Cloud Computing on the wire. Conquest Big E faded badly to be 12 lengths behind that latter runner in last.
“In the last couple jumps, I thought I had it,” Davis said. “I did a little fist bump when I just got up. We just let him break out of there, let him come out there running across the chute and let him get comfortable. I just let him get into his own stride because it was hot up front. I knew he was comfortable. He was just going his own way. He got into stride, switched leads and picked it up a little bit. I was inching him along and just using him (in the turn). Turning for home, there was a big gap down on the inside and he shot right through it. He paid it no mind. He knew what he had to do today.”
Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tale of Silence was the second longest shot in the field at 12-1 and returned $26.60 for the win. The Tale of the Cat colt improved his career mark to read 15-3-3-2, with all three of his wins coming at Belmont Park, and he’s now earned $376,272. The Westchester was his first stakes win, though the Kentucky-bred did place in the Dwyer Stakes (G2) and City of Laurel Stakes last year as well as this season’s Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3).
“He’s never had a bad problem or anything like that, but he likes this track,” Tagg said. “He likes the big, wide turn. I don’t think he likes tight turns. One mile, one turn is his game, and this track is so big, he’s got a lot of freedom, he just doesn’t like tight turns, but he got it today.”
Tale of Silence is out of the Sunday Silence mare Silence Beauty, making him a full brother to successful multiple Grade 1-winning stallion Tale of Ekati. His third dam is champion Gold Beauty, from whom is descended Grade 1 winners Maplejinsky, Sky Beauty, Violence, Pleasant Home and Point of Entry, just to name a few.
One race earlier on the card, Haras Convento Viejo’s homebred Robert Bruce moved his record to a perfect seven-for seven with a three-quarter length score in the $150,000 Fort Marcy Stakes (G3). The Chilean-bred son of Fast Company had Tyler Gaffalione aboard as he ran 1 1/8 miles over the firm inner turf in 1:47.56.
“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,” Gaffalione said.
Robert Bruce tracked the pace along the inside as Blacktype led the way up front, split foes in the stretch and dug in to score over Spring Quality as the 8-5 favorite. He returned $5.30 for the win, which increased his career earnings to $330,457.
Trained by Chad Brown, the dark bay four-year-old was honored as the 2016-17 champion two-year-old colt in Chile (turf) after racking up romping wins in four Chilean Group 1s and a Chilean Group 2.
Robert Bruce is out of the Argentinean-bred Lady Pelusa, who is by Orpen and captured a Chilean Group 1 during her time on track.