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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

Winter Memories vs. the Field

10 03 2010: Winter Memories with Jose Lezcano up win the 31nd running of the Grade III Miss Grillo, for 2-year olds fillies on the turf at 1 1/16, Belmont Park, Elmont, NY. Trainer J.J. Toner. Owners Phillips Racing Partners
Winter Memories turned in the worst effort of her brilliant career last month when she finished fourth in the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes (gr.2) after enduring a horrible trip boxed in on the rails. Now, the four-time graded stakes winner returns Saturday to defend her reputation against a strong field of eight sophomore fillies on Belmont Park’s inner turf course.
 
Despite finishing out of the money in the Lake Placid, Winter Memories will still go off a solid favorite in the Garden City Stakes (gr.1) off the strength of her three consecutive graded stakes scores earlier this year. Starting in mid-May the striking gray filly won the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes, Grade 2 Sands Points Stakes and the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes, all in dominant fashion. After breaking from post five in a field of seven in the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid, Winter Memories got pinned down on the rail as the field navigated the far turn and struggled to find a gap to run through as the field entered the homestretch. She finally managed to work her way through an opening on the inside and find clear running room, but by that time it was too late, and Hungry Island was well on her way to winning. In seven lifetime starts the El Prado filly has crossed the line ahead of the pack five times and finished second once. Her only unplaced effort came in the Lake Placid. She enters the Garden City Stakes off two five furlongs works. Her last move was a fairly slow 1:03.48 move over Belmont’s Inner Turf course, but still ranked as the fastest of three moves at the distance. There is little doubt she is the class of this field, and that’s saying a lot when you consider there are three other graded stakes winners running, not to mention two black-type stakes winners. She’s the type of filly that makes you think she’s a once in a lifetime kind of talent.


Hungry Island took on the role of “giant-slayer” when she bested Winter Memories in the Lake Placid Stakes, but it was hardly her first dominant win this year. It took the More Than Ready filly four tries before she finally put it all together, but once she did, she’s been unbeatable. She rides a four-race win streak into the Garden City Stakes and each one of those wins has something in common: A devastating late closing kick. Three of the last four official charts on her victories note that she “drew clear”, “edged clear”, and “powered clear”. The only result chart that doesn’t note her going clear in some way was when she won a 1 1/16 mile allowance at Belmont Park on the inner turf course by a neck, after rallying from far back with a closing rush. The results are clear; This filly has become incredibly competitive since she first discovered the winners circle, and she gets a little bit better with each race. The 2 ½ length victory in the Lake Placid was the icing on the cake for the Claude McGaughey trained filly, but the best could still be to come. She enters off a strong :47.43 four furlong work on the dirt that was preceded by a :36.84 three furlong move one week earlier. The shorter works should have her fit and on her toes for the Garden City, but not over worked.


Kathmanblu was once the early favorite for the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) towards the beginning of the year. After a huge performance in the Golden Rod Stakes (gr.2) last year, the daughter of Bluegrass Cat easily captured the Sweetest Chant Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park before capturing the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr.3) by 1 ¼ lengths, over future Queens Plate winner Inglorious, at Fair Grounds in her return to dirt. After those three consecutive, dominant wins everything seemed to fall apart for Kathmanblu. She finished a dull third in the Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes before finishing sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1). Returning in the Regret Stakes (gr.3) just over a month later she finished fourth, beaten three lengths while running against an average field. After a short break she returned in the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid (gr.2) and finished a good second, defeated by 2 ½ lengths after rating behind the leader, taking over at the top of the stretch, and ultimately proving no match for the rally of Hungry Island. She showed a whole lot more of her old self in the Lake Placid, and should be much sharper in the Garden City. After she took the lead in the Lake Placid she began to slowly pull away from the pack, but began to tire noticeably in the final yards. If she returns to the form that saw her win the Sweetest Chant Stakes earlier this year, she could be a huge threat. Trainer Kenny McPeek sent his pupil out for just one five furlong move before the Garden City, an easy 1:03.14 breeze.


Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr.2) winner More Than Real has run just twice this year, and only five times in her short career. After breaking her maiden decisively over future graded stakes winner Dynamic Holiday, More Than Real finished second in the Natalma Stakes (gr.3) before conquering the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by two lengths over Winter Memories, with Kathmanblu another head back in third. After a terrible 11th place showing in England’s Coronation Stakes at Ascot in mid June, trainer Todd Pletcher brought the Breeders’ Cup winner back to the United States to take on Winter Memories in the Lake George Stakes (gr.2) in late July. Considering it was just her second start of the year and she had recently completed a trip to England and back, More Than Real ran a good race, finishing third behind a freakish performance from Winter Memories. The More Than Ready filly rallied strongly around the far turn, hung a bit coming into the stretch, and then continued to close the gap between herself and front running Bellamy Star before Winter Memories crashed the party. She’s been off since her third place finish in the Lake George and has turned in four straight four furlong works since August 21st. She should be ready to run much better than he descent Lake George run, but perhaps not sharp enough to defeat this group yet. Still, don’t underestimate her chances. With only five lifetime starts to her credit, this filly has a lot of room for improvement and her year has barely started.

[Winter Memories ranks just #6 on HRN's 3-year-old Fillies Rankings page; Is she good enough to be considered a Top Three contender in the division?]

The remainder of the field is completed by Dauphin Miss Stakes winner Salary Drive, Desert Vixen Stakes winner Pinch Pie, European Group 3 winner Theysken’s Theory, winner of two of her last three starts, allowance winner Arch Support, and maiden winner Draw It. Salary Drive enters off a sharp two length victory in the 1 mile Dauphin Miss Stakes at Penn Nation on July 29th. The Garden City will be her 10th race this year. Pinch Pie finished third in the Alabama Stakes (Gr.1) behind Royal Delta and It’s Tricky in her most recent start. She won the 1 1/16 mile Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth Park on the turf on July 24th after taking an allowance optional claiming race at Delaware Park in late May. She turned in a :47.20 bullet four furlong work in her final Garden City preparation and should be extremely fit after contesting the 1 ¼ mile Alabama. Theysken’s Theory contested the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr.1) as one of the betting favorites last year but finished sixth. She has won four of her eight lifetime starts and will be making just her second start in the United States. Arch Support enters off allowance win at Saratoga on September 1st going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Draw It broke her maiden in her second try before finishing sixth in the Ashland Stakes (gr.1). She most recently finished second in the Proud Spell Stakes at Saratoga on August 19th.

It’s easy to make a case for Hungry Island in the Garden City Stakes (gr.1), until you watch a replay of the Lake George Stakes (gr.2), and then you realize how far ahead of the game Winter Memories really is. I don’t think she liked the yielding turf in the Lake Placid as well as the firm footing she’s used to, but any chance at taking a fair run for the lead was taken away with her horrible trip. If she gets a clean break, a good position and clear running off the turn, I think she’ll become a Grade 1 winner on Saturday.  
 

 

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Older Comments about Winter Memories vs. the Field...

I pity the field!
@medlocke - I think Theysken's Theory has a good chance to hit the board, but I wasn't able to see replays of her races in Europe so I can't say too much about her chances back here. I don't like that she hasn't had a race in the US to "warm up" and is jumping straight into a Grade 1. I'd be surprised to see her win but I do on the other hand agree completely on her breeding...excellent pedigree!
Winter Memories is very likely the filly their all going to have to beat to win the Garden City? But I'm not so sure I'd dismiss Theysken's Theory's chances in this race so easily? She an impeccably bread filly sired by Bernardini who's already a multiple stakes winner in the UK during her 2 and 3yr.old season's. Theysken's Theory wasn't seen to her best effect at last year's Breeders Cup, because her trainer, Brian Meehan, decided to try her on the dirt in the Juvenile Fillies instead of on the turf in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Where I feel she would've fared a lot better. She's won 2 of 3 starts so far this season. Including the Atalanta Stakes at Sandown last time out. A field that included a some high class fillies and mares. The likes of Mike De Kock's Reem and Raihana. Plus Modeyra, Strawberrydaiquir, Lay Time, and Heavenly Dawn.

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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.