Holy Helena raced her way into the hearts of racing fans across the country when she completed a classic Canadian double by sweeping the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate.
The Stronach Stables’ homebred, a daughter of Ghostzapper trained by James Jerkens, had already captured the heart of her rider Luis Contreras before making her way to the starting gate and a date with history.
“She was really nice to ride,” Contreras said. “I loved to ride her in the morning and she was so good to win the Plate and the Oaks. She’s very special.”
Unraced as a two-year-old, Holy Helena finished second on debut at Aqueduct before graduating at second asking over the dirt at Belmont Park when piloted by Mike Luzzi. She then shipped north to Woodbine and trained smoothly over the Tapeta demonstrating the class expected of a half-sister to graded stakes winner Holy Boss.
Contreras, who has won two of three starts when riding the dark bay miss, followed instructions for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks when a length winner over Mythical Mission with a stalking trip.
“When I rode her in the Oaks they told me to let her run her race and keep her as close as I can,” Contreras recalled.
Three short weeks later, when taking on the boys in the 1 ¼-mile Queen’s Plate, Holy Helena had her game face on with an early move to the lead as the field turned for home and raced strong through the wire.
“In the Plate, against the boys, it was so different,” Contreras said. “She was so game the whole race. She wasn’t intimidated at all. It was like any other race against the fillies.”
The talented Holy Helena returned to New York following her classic coup but failed to fire when eighth in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga. Holy Helena then closed out her sophomore campaign with a solid second in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby, at Woodbine.
The Sovereign Award-winning filly appears to be improving with age and is currently undefeated as a four-year-old, through two starts on the grass at Gulfstream Park, including an impressive effort to make the grade in the Grade 3 Very One.
Contreras, who earned his first Plate score in 2011 with another Oaks-Plate double winner, Inglorious, is hopeful he’ll have another chance to partner with the famous filly.
“It’s very special for me to have won my second Plate with another filly. It’s great to be a part of these type of horses,” Contreras said.