‘Long And Lanky’ Holy Helena Looking For Firm Ground In Flower Bowl

Stronach Stable’s Canadian champion Holy Helena is primed for her New York return on Sunday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl following a three-month layoff, said trainer Jimmy Jerkens Friday morning.

“She’s fresh, she looks good,” he said. “She seems pretty strong right now.”

Last year, the Ontario-bred Ghostzapper filly put together solid victories over the Tapeta course at Woodbine, winning the Woodbine Oaks before putting away males in the Queen’s Plate en route to being named Canada’s champion 3-year-old filly in 2017.

Her connections opted to make a switch to the turf this winter, which produced three straight wins for the 4-year-old, all over firm going, including a 1 ¾-length score in the Grade 3 The Very One on March 3 at Gulfstream prior to winning the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay by a half-length at Belmont in May. She followed with a fifth-place finish in the New York before returning to Woodbine for the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, where she finished third as the 5-2 favorite last time out on June 30.

Holy Helena has been installed as the 3-1 second-choice on the Flower Bowl morning line behind 7-5 favorite Fourstar Crook.

According to Jerkens though, the only question mark this weekend could be the potential for softer turf at Belmont.

“Let’s just hope she takes to the footing,” said Jerkens. “She’s kind of long and lanky and those loose-ended horses, when they plant their feet down, they want to be able to push off. It’s not very economical when the ground doesn’t cooperate with them. I don’t really know because she hasn’t run on it before, but just from what I think of her, I don’t get the impression she’ll really care for it. Hopefully a few days of nice weather will help.”

Jerkens added that Rocketry exited his record-setting performance in Sunday’s Temperence Hill in good order, where the 4-year-old colt by Hard Spun rallied from last of five for a 1 ½-length victory in his first try on the main track, breaking Man o’ War’s 98-year-old track record for 1 5/8 miles.

“He’s really good,” he said. “He doesn’t change much. He’s been even-keeled the two years I’ve had him. He was so slow [training on the dirt] when he started his career, you wouldn’t even think of running him on the dirt, especially in Florida, where you knew he’d just trail all the way. Then, later on, he started breezing very well on the dirt, even against some decent horses. I wanted to try him on the dirt, but I had to find the right spot. It seemed like distance was never an object for him and this race came up. It worked out.”

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