Holy Helena, coming off an impressive maiden victory at Belmont on May 12, rallied from just off the pace for a going-away one-length victory in yesterday’s $500,000 Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens for Stronach Stable, Holy Helena had jockey Luis Contreras in the irons for the first time under racing conditions. Contreras had become acquainted with Holy Helena when he breezed the filly on the Tapeta surface here June 6.
“I got a nice trip,” said Contreras, following his successful partnership with Holy Helena in the 1 1/8 mile Woodbine Oaks. “The filly helped me a lot the whole way. I was nice, and comfortable, sitting outside and then she gave me everything."
Mythical Mission, a homebred racing for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Malcolm Pierce, also came from just off the front-runners and had assumed the lead at the eighth pole before failing to match the winner’s kick.
“It was a huge effort,” said Pierce. “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.”
Inflexibility, invading from Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown, was sent off as the 5-2 favorite under Joel Rosario but failed to muster a sufficient rally after racing on the inside and settled for a third-place finish, six lengths behind the runner-up.
“The trip was good,” said Rosario. “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.”
Enstone, who had stalked the pace four wide before moving to take over from front-running Stallion Heiress running into the far turn, gave way in the drive to finish fourth, just a head behind Inflexibility as the 7-2 second choice.
Stallion Heiress was timed in :23.60 for the opening quarter and :47.03 for the half-mile while pressed by Miss Adele.
Enstone was in front through six furlongs in 1:12.18 before Mythical Mission and Holy Helena moved in tandem from mid-pack and took control of the race in mid-stretch. Mythical Mission reached the mile marker in 1:37.18. The final time was 1:50.18.
The unplaced Financial Recovery was the 5-1 third choice under Mike Smith, who had conducted an autograph session earlier in the afternoon and was coming off a spectacular five-stakes win day at Belmont Park.
Holy Helena returned $14.00, $7.10 and $4.90 after being led into the stakes winner’s circle by owner Frank Stronach.
“She has beautiful breeding,” said Stronach. “The bottom side, it’s a great family.” Holy Helena is a daughter of Ghostzapper out of the Holy Bull mare, Holy Grace.
The 5-10 exactor with Mythical Mission ($8.00, $4.60) paid $102.40 while the 5-10-2 trifecta completed by Inflexibility ($3.60) came back at $525.60. The $1 superfecta of 5-10-2-9 paid $870.55.