Winter Memories lived up to her role as the 3-5
favorite Monday afternoon at Belmont Park, sweeping wide on the turn and
rolling to an easy three-length victory over Celestial Kitten in the 17th
running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, Winter Memories eagerly went after Arch Support
as she and Mystical Star led the field of six 3-year-old fillies through a
dawdling opening quarter in 26.11. Racing in third as the half-mile went in
51.41, Winter Memories began moving up on the far turn and spurted clear by
three lengths when given her cue once into the stretch. Hand-ridden to the
wire, the roan daughter of El Prado completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.61 over
the firm inner turf course.
“She just galloped over there,” said Lezcano. “I had
to go very close to the pace, but when I asked her, she gave me the same kick
she always give me and she picked it up very quick. She usually sits back and
makes a run, but today there was no pace in the race, so I had to do what I had
to do. This is the kind of filly you can do whatever you want with, you can
keep her close or you can take her back. Today, with six horses and no pace, I
had to put her in the race.”
The victory was the second in as many starts this year for Winter
Memories, who has won four of her five career starts. The filly, who opened her
sophomore campaign by winning the Grade 3 Appalachian, took the Grade 3 Miss Grillo
at Belmont Park last October following her maiden
win and ended the year with a second-place finish to More Than Real in the
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“Our main goal is the Queen Elizabeth II [at Keeneland in
October]; we’ll figure out the best way to get her there and look at the
Lake George [Grade 2, July 27] and Lake Placid [Grade 2, August 21] in
Saratoga,” said Jimmy Toner, who trains Winter Memories for her breeders,
the Phillips Racing Partnership.
The victory, worth $90,000, extended the filly’s earnings to
$450,600. She returned $3.20 for a $2 win bet to her backers in the Memorial
Day crowd of 9,144.
Parting Words finished third, followed by Naples Bay,
Mystical Star, and Arch Support. Life’s Measure was scratched.