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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

Sassy Memories of an Eclair

You can probably guess from the title what three fillies I’m about to talk about; Sassy Image, Winter Memories and Éclair de Lune. Memorial Day weekend is always one of the most exciting few days in spring for racing enthusiasts, it ushers in the changing of the guard in a manner of speaking. Most of the big graded stakes races that are held in the southern states and Californian now have to vie with the powerful presence of Belmont Park and New York racing opening for their meets. The Met Mile always takes top billing this weekend every year but a plethora of graded stakes races, beginning on Friday and going through Monday, will play the part of a strong supportive cast with fields chockfull of proven, talented fields.

On Monday the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes, Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes and the Grade 3 Winning Colors Stakes will represent some of the finest in filly and mare racing spanning three different states; California, New York and Kentucky. Éclair de Lune and Malibu Pier headline a field of eight fillies in the Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park (gr.1). The 1 1/8 mile test for 3 year olds and up will be run with a $250,000 purse this year over the turf and boasts five graded stakes winners.

Malibu Pier enters off two straight graded stakes scores over Santa Anita’s turf course in the March 19th Santa Ana Stakes and the April 16th Santa Barbara Handicap, both grade 2. Éclair de Lune finished fifth behind Malibu Pier in the Santa Ana two starts back and enters riding a four race losing streak where her best finish was fourth place. Dubawi Heights will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time but has won her last three starts, two of them over Hollywood Park’s turf course. Cozie Rosie last finished second to Malibu Pier in the Santa Barbara Handicap. She started the year out winning the Beuna Vista Handicap (gr.2) over Briecat and Malibu Pier before closing out 2010 with a Grade 3 win and another Grade 2 runner up finish to Evening Jewel in the Honeymoon Stakes way back in late May.
I’ve always liked Éclair de Lune a lot but I think Cozie Rosie and Malibu Pier have superior form coming into this race and Dubawi Heights seems to be rounding into the best condition of her career.

There is something thrilling about watching an all grey, almost white horse racing through the stretch, contrasting sharply against a sea of bay, chestnut and near black coats. They are easy to spot because they stand out like a bride at the wedding, and in the case of a filly like Winter Memories, they are usually crossing the finish line first.

Last year Winter Memories completed a short but brilliant juvenile campaign with a runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. After breaking her maiden she went straight to Grade 3 winner when capturing the Miss Grillo with an electrifying turn of foot in the stretch before her runner up effort at the Breeders’ Cup. This year she made good on her three year old debut by winning the Appalachian Stakes (gr.3) at Keeneland by a thrilling neck, proving that she is back and as good as ever. Now she headlines a field of seven sophomore fillies in the Sands Point Stakes (gr.2) at Belmont Park, just one race before the Met Mile.

Mystical Star has raced just three times in her career, breaking her maiden at first asking in late January before finishing second to Dynamic Holiday in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr.3) at Gulfstream Park. She returned a winner at Keeneland in her last race on April 27thth place clunker in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and an 8th place finish in a Gulfstream allowance in late March. in an allowance race over the synthetic surface and will be cutting back in distance for the 1 1/16 mile Sands Point as all of her starts have come at 1 1/8 miles. Naples Bay is undefeated in two starts; a maiden score and an allowance win at Gulfstream, but has not started since late March. Life’s Measure enters off two straight scores at Belmont Park over the dirt but the two worst performances of her career have come over turf so I’m not sure she belongs here at all. Celestian Kitten enters off a maiden race score while Parting Words enters off a third place finish behind Winter Memories in the Appalachain last out. Arch Support finished second in the Miss Grillo to Winter Memories last year.

Winter Memories is easily the class of this field and should be able to score her third graded stakes win. This would have been a great spot for Kathmanblu to return to the races after her failed Kentucky Oaks run if her connections are thinking turf again but we’ll just have to wait a little while longer for Winter Memories to encounter a challenger of that caliber this year.

The 6 furlong Winning Colors Stakes (gr.3) is easily the weakest field, save one filly, of the three graded stakes mentioned earlier. Sassy Image defeated a classy field when becoming a Grade 1 winner earlier this month in the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs and now she returns to the scene of her greatest triumph to attempt to win back-to-back graded stakes on Monday, something she hasn’t accomplished since her juvenile year in 2009 when she won the Pocahontas (gr.3) and Golden Rod Stakes (gr.2). Trained by Dale Romans of recent Shackleford fame, Sassy Image has won four of her last seven starts and is a perennial consistent top performer. She is the sole graded stakes winner in the field and will be facing just one black type stakes winner in Stephanie Got Even who won the American Beauty Stakes on January 23rd but has since finished 3rd and 5th in two graded stakes races.  Fortune Play and Beat the Blues are the only two contestants aside from Sassy Image entering the Winning Colors off wins, both allowance optional claiming scores.
Unless something hugely unexpected takes place and Sassy Image decides not to show up this is her race to lose as there is nothing close to her caliber running.

Photo Courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography

 

 

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Older Comments about Sassy Memories of an Eclair...

Yes, absolutely, I love when the fillies take the males on in the big races, there's nothing more exciting!
Hey, the fillies have been the stars of racing the past few years...Rachel, Goldikova, Zenyatta!

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.