Winter Memories remained unbeaten in two starts
and is Breeders’ Cup-bound following a dominant victory in the Grade 3,
$150,000 Miss Grillo on Sunday at Belmont Park.
Sent off as the crowd’s 7-5 choice in the Miss Grillo, which
offered the winner a guaranteed berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs on November 5, Winter Memories rated in ninth
through a half in 49.47 before she began to tug at jockey Jose Lezcano on the
far turn. Kept under restraint as she circled the field, the gray unleashed a
powerful kick when given her cue in upper stretch, driving clear to score by 5
¼ lengths over Arch Support, with Fancy Point a nose behind in third.
“In the first part of the race I was behind horses and when I
moved in the clear she wanted to take a hold of the bit, so I had to take a
hold of her again so I could wait for the quarter pole,” said Lezcano.
“Then I swung out and she just exploded. She has a really big and fast
kick. I’m not surprised at her effort today – she is a really nice
Winning trainer Jimmy Toner confirmed that he had instructed Lezcano to
keep Winter Memories outside of horses.
“I was concerned around the turn when she started to drop back,
but Jose said she was trying to take him, so he checked her,” said Toner,
who added that he will accept the invitation to the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“She’s a big, long-striding filly, so we wanted to keep her
Owned by Phillips Racing Partnership, Winter Memories graduated by 1 ½
lengths in a 1 1/16-mile turf event at Saratoga
on September 3 in her only previous start.
By El Prado and out of Grade 1-winning turf mare Memories of Silver,
the juvenile returned $4.90 for a $2 win wager, covered 1 1/16 miles over the
yielding Widener turf course in 1:45.69, and quadrupled her earnings to
$120,000 with the winner’s purse of $90,000.
Excited narrowly edged Silent Joy to finish fourth, with A Brilliant
Idea, Pleine Forme, Table Talking, Le Mi Geaux, Button Girl, and Sleepless
Dixie completing the order of finish. Come a Callin and the also-eligibles
Atlantic Voyage and Upper East Sider were scratched.