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Winter Memories Scintillating in Lake George

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
Almost 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.


Uncharacteristically relaxed 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 $3.10.


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.



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Two great performances today--Winter Memories and Frankel

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