Winter Memories regained winning form in her 2012
debut, delivering a strong turn of foot after finding room at the top of the
stretch to take the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay and give jockey Eddie Castro his
2,000th North American victory.
With Castro aboard for the first time in her career, Winter Memories
raced in fourth behind fractions of 49.90 and 1:13.98, brushed with Check the
Label while moving outside, and took off after getting the space she needed en
route to a 2 ¼-length score over Gitchee Goomie.
“She relaxed fine in the beginning behind the other
horses,” said Castro, a 27-year-old native of Panama
who began riding in the United
States in 2003. “I knew there was not
too much speed, so I had to be right there. With no speed – the turf is
really soft, too – I had to wait, wait. At the top of the stretch, the
other horse pushed me in, but I pushed back a little bit. When she was clear
and she could run, she took off.”
Winning trainer Jimmy Toner lauded Winter Memories and Castro for their
performances in the Beaugay.
“She put in a really nice race,” said Toner. “She
really did. You could see they were all just getting ready to box her in there,
and [Castro] was patient. When they tried to push him back in, he came back
out. Boy, he rode a beautiful race.”
Winter Memories, a 4-year-old daughter of El Prado, earned her fourth
graded stakes win at Belmont
and sixth overall and paid $3.90 for a $2 win wager as the 4-5 favorite. The
Phillips Racing Partnership homebred completed 1 1/16 miles over yielding turf
The Beaugay was Winter Memories’ first start at Belmont since her dramatic neck win in
September’s Grade 1 Garden City. She concluded her 2011 campaign with a
fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in
October at Keeneland. Overall, she is 7-1-0 from 10 starts with $808,100 in
earnings, including $90,000 for her Beaugay triumph.
Toner said Winter Memories will target the Grade 1, $500,000 Just a
Game on June 9, Belmont Stakes Day.
Principal Role was third, followed by Federation, Check the Label, and
Hessonite. La Cloche, who was coupled with Winter Memories, Check Point, and My
Redbyrd were scratched.
Castro, third in the jockey standings at the recently concluded
Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet, grew up on a farm riding horses and became
interested in racing by watching compatriots such as Cornelio Velasquez. He
attended his native country’s jockey school – now named after its
most famous graduate, Laffit Pincay, Jr. – and won his first race there
on December 6, 2002.
Castro registered his first North American victory aboard Diamond and
Notes on April 23, 2003 at Gulfstream
Park. He went on to win
241 more races that year and earned the 2003 Eclipse Award as the
nation’s top apprentice jockey despite missing three months.
In 2005, he set a national record when he rode nine winners on a single
card at Calder on June 4. Last year on the NYRA circuit, Castro finished sixth
overall with 111 victories, including Grade 1 wins in the TVG Acorn and
Coaching Club American Oaks aboard It’s Tricky and the Resorts World
Casino New York City Wood Memorial with Toby’s Corner.
He reached the 1,000-win milestone on November 15, 2008 at Churchill
Photo: NYRA, Adam