Monday, July 3, 2017

Stronach Filly Wins Queen’s Plate

Holy Helena beat Tiz a Slam by 3 ½ lengths on Sunday in the $1 million Queen’s Plate Stakes, the biggest race of the year for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

With Luis Contreras riding, Holy Helena won in 2:02.87 for 1 1/4 miles on the artificial Tapeta surface at Woodbine in Etobicoke. Ont. She became the 36th filly to win the Queen’s Plate, which has been run 158 

It was a race with some strong Florida connections.
Holy Helena is owned by Stronach Stables and was bred at its Adena Springs Farm in Ontario. Both entities are owned by the family of Frank Stronach, which also owns Gulfstream Park.

Holy Helena was the 2-1, favorite in the 13-horse field.  She  took  the lead entering the stretch  and pulled away  for her third victory in four  career starts.

In her previous race, Holy Helena won the 1 1/8 mile Woodbine  Oaks on June 11.  She is trained by Jimmy Jerkens and is a daughter of the 2003 Breeders’ Cup  Classic winner Ghostzapper.

While Holy Helena has never raced in Florida, six of the Queen’s Plate runners raced at either Tampa Bay Downs or at Gulfstream this year.

Three of them finished second through fourth in Sunday’s race. They are Tiz a Slam, Inflexibility and Channel Maker. Their odds were between 6-1 and 8-1. 

They were part of $1 superfecta that paid $822.15
Florida “alum” State of Honor, at 7-1, led after three-quarters of a mile, but faded to finish eighth.

At Tampa Bay, this year State of Honor finished third in the Sam F. Davis (Grade 3) and second in the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2). He later finished second if the Florida Derby (Grade 1) at Gulfstream.

When asked if he was considering a run in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown—the July 25 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Race Track—Stronach said, "I don't think so."  That race is 1 3/16 miles on dirt at the track in Fort Erie, Ont.

The third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is the Breeders’ Stakes, which will be 1 ½ miles on turf on Aug. 13 at Woodbine.

Spirit of Caledon and King and His Court, who finished sixth and seventh respectively on Sunday, are the other two horses that race at either Gulfstream or Tampa Bay this year.

None of the six won a race in Florida.  Their taking six of the eight top places in the Queen’s Plate is an indication of the depth in 3-year-old racing at Gulfstream and Tampa Bay.

Because of the close ties between Florida and Canada, we will provide coverage of the upcoming races in Canada’s Triple Crown.
--Jim Freer

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