Holy Helena Very Impressive in G3 The Very One
Mar 3, 2018
Jerkens Doubles Up with Team of Teams in Sand Springs
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Stronach Stables’ Holy Helena rallied through the stretch to earn her first graded-stakes victory Saturday in the $150,000 The Very One (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 3/16-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares was the first of nine stakes, including eight graded stakes, on a 14 race program headlined by the $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth.
Holy Helena established herself as one of North America’s leading 3-year-old fillies of 2017 when she defeated colts in the $1 million Queen’s Plate as well as the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks over Woodbine’s synthetic track last summer, but the Ontario-bred filly finished off the board in the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga and finished second against the boys in the Ontario Derby (G3) at Woodbine in her only two previous graded-stakes attempts.
The 7-2 second betting choice saved ground under Irad Ortiz Jr. behind a sensible pace set by 6-5 favorite Daring Duchess, who showed the way into the stretch after running a mile in 1:37.87. Holy Helena finally left the rail while splitting horses at the top of the stretch and drew away to win by 1 ¾ lengths. Daring Duchess, who was ridden by Jose Ortiz, held second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of Palinodie and jockey Joel Rosario.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Holy Helena ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.67 to successfully follow up a Feb. 4 optional claiming allowance win at Gulfstream in her first career start on turf.
One race later, Jerkens saddled Team of Teams for a front-running score in the $100,000 Sand Springs, a mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares.
Team of Teams, an 11-1 longshot ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, went right to the lead to set comfortable fractions of 24.31 seconds and 49.53 for the first half mile before drawing away to a solid three-length victory.
The 4-year-old daughter of Exclusive Quality ran a mile in 1:35.94 to win her first stakes victory.
Grizzel closed to finish second, a half-length ahead of Island Reward, who was a neck ahead of 2-5 favorite Celestine, who lacked a late response after saving ground behind Team of Teams.
G3 The Very One Quotes
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens (Holy Helena):
“The horse that was on the lead was the horse that we felt would be on the lead. 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.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. (Holy Helena):
“She broke good and put me in a good position. 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.”
Sand Springs Quotes
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens (Team of Teams):
“We thought the only filly with speed close to hers was [Perdona] and Johnny made it look like he had intentions of going to the lead leaving there so Edgar [Prado] kind of figured that and took off us, which I’m glad he did. It probably wouldn’t have helped either one of us. You just can’t ride to beat one horse most of the time. We were lucky that she was able to get an easy lead.”
“She did that before. In her first race in this country she did the same thing with Paco [Lopez]. She’s got it in her. She’s a feisty little thing and you have to get her on her day. Some days she’s crankier than other days. She’s a typical filly but even more so.”
“She doesn’t seem to want to settle behind another horse early in a race. That’s why you’ve got to keep them as good as you can and take a shot especially with a filly like her. You never know. Even though it’s a stake, you can’t get intimidated. The filly of Christophe’s [Clement, Celestine] is awful good but she’s not quite the filly she was last year or the year before maybe. It all has to come together.”
John Velazquez (Team of Teams):
“In her last start there was a lot of speed in the race and I tried to rate behind the speed. She’s not a horse who likes to relax, but today there was no speed. We got to the lead and she was able to relax in front and was able to finish, which was the difference between her last two starts.”