Holy Helena, returning to the scene of her Woodbine Oaks-Queen’s Plate double in 2017, stalked the pace after breaking from the inside post and finished strongly to take down Saturday’s Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths.
The $175,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 ¼ mile turf race for fillies and mares, attracted a field of eight and Holy Helena was bet down to 6-5 favouritism under jockey Javier Castellano.
“I liked the way she did it today, the way she settled,” said Castellano, who rode the homebred Holy Helena for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and Stronach Stables.
“I didn’t panic at the three-eighths because somebody moved outside me. I just sat still and made one run. The way she did it (was) phenomenal, the way she finished – unbelievable.”
Rock My Love, who bore out after breaking from the outside, recovered quickly to open up on her Dance Smartly rivals and led the field through tepid fractions of :26.24, :51.41, and 1:15.74.
Holy Helena had remained in touch while stalking the pace just off the rail but was held in reserve as Get Explicit launched a strong rally to move past and challenge Rock My Love.
Rock My Love continued to lead with Get Explicit closest attendance and was still second as the mile went by in 1:38.60 as Castellano sat chilly.
Holy Helena, who was just starting to get serious at that point, was on the march but still trailed Rock My Love by 1 ½ lengths with a furlong to run.
Starship Jubilee, making her third consecutive Dance Smartly appearance and dead heat winner of the 2017 edition, came from off the pace to finish a second, just a neck before third-place Art of Almost.
The lone three-year-old filly and one of two in the field conditioned by Roger Attfield, Art of Almost stalked the pace throughout and was a good third, 1 ¼ lengths before the weakening Rock My Love.
Empressof the Nile, Get Explicit, Lift Up and the Attfield-trained Cartabianca completed the order of finish.
The final time was 2:02.08 on a course rated “good.”
Holy Helena, a five-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper and Holy Grace, had finished third in last year’s Dance Smartly, her first appearance on the E.P. Taylor turf course.
The Dance Smartly was the seventh overall win, sixth stakes win, and fourth graded turf stakes win for the Ontario-bred.
“I’m saying the Canadian air does a lot of good for her,” said owner Frank Stronach.
“Mike (locally-based Stronach Stable manager Mike Doyle) had her here for a week and a half and I think things are great – they work well together.
“Javier is such a great rider. He didn’t panic.”
Castellano, currently based at Belmont, was winning his second stakes of the afternoon after capturing the Grade 2, $175,000 King Edward with Synchrony.
Holy Helena returned $4.70, $2.70 and $2.50 and keyed a 1-4 exacta with Starship Jubilee ($2.90, $2.70) worth $15.00.
Art of Almost ($5.10) rounded out a 1-4-2 trifecta of $47.05 and Rock My Love (8) completed a $1 supefecta worth $211.40.