exactly 15 years after saddling Memories of Silver to victory in a dramatic
first running of the Lake George at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Jimmy Toner
returned to send her daughter, Winter Memories, out for an equally scintillating
performance in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile turf race.
under Jose Lezcano through the early going, Winter Memories settled just off the
rail in sixth as Sunlight Sonata led the field through an opening quarter in
23.15 and a half in 47.47. Swung wide and forced to check turning for home,
Winter Memories dashed down the center of the track, easily blowing past her
rivals to hit the wire 4 ½ lengths in front.
“It was surprising – she was off
the bit and so relaxed down the backside, I didn’t know what to make of it,
truthfully,” said Toner. “I said ‘Oh, my God, she doesn’t seem like she’s on it
today.’ But, he dropped her head and there was nobody around and she just
relaxed and was galloping along. When he picked her up and asked her to run, she
just accelerated and took off.”
Lezcano, too, noticed a change in
the gray El Prado filly, who completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.57.
“Sometimes in a race you would
have to fight with her but today she was very professional,” said the rider.
“When I asked her, she took off like she was coming out of the gate! Once I got
her to the outside, she galloped. I think she can still get even better, but the
way she ran today was very impressive.”
The 1996 Lake George, which was
contested in two ungraded divisions on August 2 of that year, was the first
stakes victory for Memories of Silver, who would go on to win six graded races,
including the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Stakes at Keeneland, which
Toner also has penciled in for her daughter.
“That was one of the most daring
performances by a horse,” Toner said of Memories of Silver’s Lake George victory. “Jerry Bailey literally put her nose
in between two horses and she split the horses, she made them split, and went on
and won. Two totally different horses, but to see the mother do it, and the
daughter do it, [it’s special].”
Toner said the Grade 2, Woodford
Reserve Lake Placid at 1 1/8-miles on August 21 would be next for Winter
Memories, who is 3-for-3 this year.
Winter Memories already has four
graded victories to her credit, having taken the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at
Belmont Park as a juvenile, as well as the Grade 3 Appalachian
at Keeneland and Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont this spring en route to today’s win.
With a record of 5-1-0 from six
starts, she has earned $540,000 for owner and breeder John Phillips, of the
Phillips Racing Partnership. The 1-2 favorite in the field of six, she returned
Bellamy Star finished second, a
length clear of stablemate More Than Real, who handed Winter Memories her only
defeat to date in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill
Downs on November 5. Sunlight Sonata, Calmafterthestorm and Little Miss Holly
completed the Lake George order of finish.