Holy Helena, Stronach Stables' three-time graded stakes winner, will go for back-to-back wins in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes over the inner turf course at Belmont Park.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper will be seeking to defend her title in the 1 3/8-mile event for fillies and mares. In her most recent outing, she scored a victory in the Grade 3 The Very One on March 2 at Gulfstream Park, a race which she also won last year en route to a win in the Sheepshead Bay.
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Early in her career, Holy Helena showcased her talent against fellow Canadian-breds at Woodbine, taking the Woodbine Oaks and Canada's crown jewel - the Queen's Plate - during her sophomore campaign in 2017.
Holy Helena is the only horse in the Sheepshead Bay field to have accumulated over one million dollars in career earnings, which currently stands at $1,175,578. She is out of the Holy Bull broodmare Holy Grace who also produced graded stakes winner Holy Boss and is a half-sister to graded stakes winners Rookie Sensation, Mark One and Daiwa Carson - a Group 2 winner in Japan.
Jerkens said Holy Helena would prefer a firm turf course on Saturday.
"She doesn't seem to be as effective over the boggy going and we're not getting the greatest forecast in the world but maybe we'll get lucky," Jerkens said. "I think she'll do some more good things this year. I like how she's done since she came back from Florida. We're hoping for a nice trip and as long as the turf isn't too soft you should see her usual self."
She will be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post 5.
Looking to turn the tables on Holy Helena after running third in last year's Sheepshead Bay is Santa Monica. Trained by Chad Brown, the 6-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman was beaten a half-length in last year's running in only her second start in the United States after being formerly trained by Charles O'Brien in her native Great Britain.
Santa Monica has finished in the money in all but one of her eight starts for Brown, including graded stakes victories in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly last June at Woodbine and, most recently, the Grade 3 Orchid on March 29 at Gulfstream Park.
Santa Monica is out of the Zamindar broodmare Zacchera who is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Sakhee's Secret. She will receive the riding services of Joe Bravo from post 6.
Seeking her second graded stakes victory is Lady Montdore, who took last year's Grade 2 Glens Falls at Saratoga in wire-to-wire fashion. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Tom Albertrani, the 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro began her career in France for Andre Fabre and won her first two starts in America for Albertrani. Prior to winning the Glens Falls, she was victorious against allowance company over the turf at Saratoga.
Lady Montdore will be making her 2019 debut. Last out, she was a close seventh in the Grade 3 Long Island at Aqueduct, where she was beaten three lengths. She is out of the Grade 1-winning Distorted Humor broodmare Hystericalady. She will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche and breaks from the rail.
Completing the field for the Sheepshead Bay are Semper Sententiae (post two, Dylan Davis), Giant Zinger (post seven, Eric Cancel) and Vexatious (post eight, Adam Beschizza).
Unbridledadventure and Matty's Magnum are entered for main track only.
The Sheepshead Bay is slated as Race 4 on Saturday's 12-race card with a 1:36 p.m. post time. First post is 12:00 p.m.