The class of the field as the winner of the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) and fourth-place finisher in the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Sadler’s Joy had just one question coming into his 2018 bow in Saturday’s $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2): could the deep closer get up in time going 1 3/8 miles at Gulfstream Park?
The answer was a convincing “Yes!” as Tom Albertrani’s 9-5 favorite passed them all to win going away by three-quarters of a length. Patiently handled by Julien Leparoux, Sadler’s Joy bided his time at the rear while front-running One Go All Go posted splits of :24.06, :48.48, 1:13.41, and 1:36.96 on the firm course. One Go All Go was all heart in the homestretch, digging in to resist Oscar Nominated and Markitoff, and managed to repel all comers but one.
Still last of 12 at the mile mark, and fanning to the far outside leaving the final turn, Sadler’s Joy swooped fast and late to finish in 2:12.93. Nessy closed stoutly on the inside to grab third, outfinishing Oscar Nominated and Markitoff. Some in Tieme ran evenly in sixth. Muqtaser was in a good spot at every stage but couldn’t capitalize and wound up a one-paced seventh. Gold Shield never factored in eighth, Patterson Cross likely needed this one after being sidelined for 11 months, and Run Time, Big Bend, and the tailed-off Bernay concluded the order under the wire.
A Woodslane Farm homebred, Sadler’s Joy has bankrolled $1,343,288 from a record of 15-6-1-3. The chestnut had a breakout season in 2017, capturing the Sword Dancer and Pan American (G2) as well as placing in the Manhattan (G1), Man o’ War (G1), Bowling Green (G2), and W.L. McKnight (G3) in his auspicious stakes debut.
The son of Kitten’s Joy was produced by the unraced Dynaformer mare Dynaire. The mare is bred on the reverse cross from Kitten’s Joy. While Kitten’s Joy is from the Sadler’s Wells sire line out of a Roberto-line mare, Dynaire has Roberto on top and her broodmare sire is the Sadler’s Wells stallion Royal Solo. Thus Sadler’s Joy boasts inbreeding to Sadler’s Wells (3×4) and Roberto (4×3).
Sadler’s Joy’s second dam, Binya, is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Sabin from the prolific family of Miss Oceana and Magic of Life. Binya won the 2004 The Very One (G3), which was renewed earlier on Saturday.
In that $150,000 The Very One (G3), last year’s Queen’s Plate heroine, Holy Helena, added a graded victory on turf to her portfolio. Under Irad Ortiz Jr., the Jimmy Jerkens trainee saved ground on the rail until angling out to split foes in the stretch.
Daring Duchess, the 6-5 favorite, appeared to be in pole position when controlling the pace through slow fractions of :24.28, :49.73, 1:14.52 and 1:37.87. But Holy Helena, nestled about three lengths back early, had the turn of foot to neutralize the favorite’s advantage. Improving her position on the far turn and tipping out for a clear run in the stretch, the Stronach Stables homebred surged past Daring Duchess and opened up by 1 3/4 lengths. The 7-2 second choice covered 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.67 and raced without Lasix.
Holy Helena was the only one able to overhaul the early leaders, for Daring Duchess and the tracking Palinodie held second and third. Empressof the Nile checked in fourth, followed by Westit; Summersault, who launched a middle move out wide before fading; and Shezaprado.
The Ontario-bred Holy Helena is now two-for-two on turf, having won a February 4 allowance here in her seasonal reappearance. She sports a mark of 8-5-2-0, with wins on all three surfaces, and $889,333 in earnings. Also victorious in the Woodbine Oaks on the way to the Queen’s Plate, Holy Helena placed second in the Ontario Derby (G3) in her 2017 finale on Woodbine’s Tapeta. The dark bay broke her maiden on the Belmont dirt, but she threw in her only poor effort when reverting to the surface in the Alabama (G1).
Holy Helena is a Ghostzapper half-sister to Grade 2-winning sprinter Holy Boss (by Street Boss). They are out of the winning Holy Bull mare Holy Grace, in turn a half-sister to Grade 2 victor Rookie Sensation and multiple Grade 3 scorer Mark One. Holy Helena’s fourth dam is blue hen Missy Baba.
Saturday was a banner day for Queen’s Plate winners. The 2016 Queen’s Plate victor, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Sir Dudley Digges, scored later in the afternoon in the Barbados Gold Cup.