Lake George Recap
Winter Memories explodes in stretch to win Lake George
Phillips Racing Partnership's Kentucky homebred WINTER MEMORIES (El Prado [Ire]) mocked her three-year-old filly rivals with a breathtaking stretch run in Wednesday's $150,000 Lake George S. (G2) at Saratoga. Trailing the field of six turning for home, the flashy gray was swung four-wide by jockey Jose Lezcano and inhaled her opponents in a matter of strides. Once past the leading Bellamy Star (Bellamy Road), Winter Memories was geared down for the final yards and passed the wire 4 1/2 lengths in front. She returned $3.10, $2.30 and $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite after completing 1 1/16 miles on the good inner turf in 1:41 2/5.
Settled at the rear of the field for the opening six furlongs, Winter Memories bided her time as Sunlight Sonata (Unbridled's Song) led anywhere from a length to two lengths through splits of :23, :47 2/5 and 1:11 4/5. Bellamy Star, who tracked in second from the start, was sent to the lead at the top of the stretch and opened up 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go. However, she was never going to contain Winter Memories when that one got in gear. Pinned down along the hedge at the quarter pole, Lezcano had to momentarily steady Winter Memories before switching her out to commence her bold, winning move.
"Jose said (Calmafterthestorm [Broken Vow]) was coming out and he almost clipped heels, he had to steady her to get her outside," Toner said. "When she gets near horses or horses get near her and try to pin her in, that's when she gets on the muscle and she tries to take off. When she takes off, you gotta watch out, she'll just run over them."
"It was surprising -- she was off the bit and so relaxed down the backside, I didn't know what to make of it, truthfully. 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. Usually she's tugging at him a little bit more and today she didn't seem like she was tugging at him at all, she was just totally relaxed."
Bellamy Road, at 9-2, finished a length clear of stablemate More Than Real (More Than Ready), the 3-1 second choice. The latter was a 1 1/2 lengths clear of Sunlight Sonata, who was followed by Calmafterthestorm and Little Miss Holly (Maria's Mon). Marion Ravenwood (A.P. Indy) was entered for the main track only and was scratched.
Winter Memories has been favored in all six career starts. The gray signaled her talent in a smart debut victory at Saratoga last September, and confirmed that impression still further with a 5 1/4-length tour de force in the October 3 Miss Grillo S. (G3). Winter Memories was expected to complete the hat trick in the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2), but a troubled trip in traffic proved too much to overcome, and she settled for runner-up honors. She made a winning reappearance in the April 21 Appalachian S. (G3) at Keeneland by a neck, then took the May 30 Sands Point S. (G2) at Belmont by three lengths. She's now bankrolled $540,600.
Her dam, Memories of Silver, captured eight stakes during her three seasons of racing, including the 1996 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1), in a Keeneland course-record 1:45 4/5 for 1 1/8 grassy miles, and the 1997 Beverly D. S. (G1). The bay mare won a division of the 1996 Lake George and placed in the Matriarch S. (G1), Yellow Ribbon S. (G1) and Flower Bowl Invitational H. (G1) during her career and bankrolled more than $1.4 million. Memories of Silver's first two foals were stakes winners, British Blue (Storm Cat) and War Trace (Storm Cat), but she didn't have a graded-class runner until La Cloche (Ghostzapper) finished second in the Pucker Up S. (G3) last fall.
Memories of Silver's latest progeny are a yearling colt by Bluegrass Cat and a 2011 colt by Tiznow. She is a half-sister to Memories (Hail the Pirates), who captured the first division of the 1988 Miss Grillo S. (G2); Grade 3-placed stakes winner Memories of Gold (Time for a Change); and Irish stakes-placed Childhood Memories (The Minstrel). Memories herself is the dam of Group 3 victor Russian Revival (Nureyev) while Childhood Memories is the granddam of multiple Grade 2 winner Liberian Freighter (Bertrando), who garnered the Arcadia S. (G2) and Inglewood H. (G3) in April.
Winter Memories' third dam is Grade 3 queen Java Moon (Graustark), and she comes from the same line as turf champions Ryafan (Lear Fan) and Sunshine Forever (Roberto); multiple Grade 1 winner and classic-placed Brian's Time (Roberto); and Grade/Group 2 heroes Tillerman (In the Wings [GB]) and Freedom Crest (To Freedom). Also in this family is Grade 1 victress Andover Way (His Majesty), best known as the dam of top sire Dynaformer (Roberto).
Winter Memories will likely contest the August 21 Lake Placid S. (G2) at Saratoga before a tilt in the October 15 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.
Jim Dandy, Diana highlight Saratoga program
With no clear-cut favorite for champion three-year-old male honors heading into this weekend's stakes action, every significant race in the division left to be run, beginning with Saturday's $500,000 Jim Dandy S. (G2) at Saratoga, could be crucial in determining a champion. The 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, a prep for the August 27 Travers S. (G1), is a starting point for several of its seven participants to make a late-season charge in the divisional sweepstakes.
Among those with fewer blots on their record are DOMINUS (Smart Strike), wire-to-wire winner of the July 2 Dwyer S. (G2) in only his fourth career start, and the May 14 Peter Pan S. (G2) hero ALTERNATION (Distorted Humor), whose connections purposely bypassed the Belmont S. (G1) to point for a summer/fall campaign. Both horses, frequent visitors to the winner's circle, each have a single loss in stakes company. Dominus was second by a neck in the Derby Trial S. (G3) two back, while Alternation rallied for fifth after breaking slow in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Nominally a grass performer at the beginning of the season, BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer) entered the classic frame with an upset score in the Blue Grass S. (G1). Though a decent seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Belmont, the Live Oak homebred hasn't entirely shaken off his reputation as one who prefers softer footing as he's failed to hit the board in three fast-track appearances.
Gotham S. (G3) winner STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) seemed thoroughly exposed when up the track in the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby, but surprisingly bounced back with a highly credible second to Ruler on Ice (Roman Ruler) in the Belmont S. for Todd Pletcher. If wearing blinkers at Gulfstream and running too close to the rail at Churchill Downs were indeed legitimate excuses, Stay Thirsty on current form could win the Jim Dandy as his sire Bernardini did in 2006 en route to championship honors.
Former claimer SCOTUS (Successful Appeal) captured the June 18 Matt Winn S. (G3) after three successive losses in allowance company. MOONSHINE MULLIN (Albert the Great) recently captured the Victoria Park S. at Woodbine but has never raced on dirt. WILL'S WILDCAT (Eurosilver) should show early foot should he run in the Jim Dandy, but would seemingly be a better fit for Friday's Curlin S., for which he was cross-entered.
A fascinating renewal of the $500,000 Diana S. (G1) for fillies and mares will be run approximately a half-hour before the Jim Dandy. The favorites in the nine-furlong Mellon turf test include Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) winner AVIATE (GB) (Dansili [GB]), sixth as the favorite in the subsequent Just a Game S. (G1) on softer ground; ARUNA (Mr. Greeley), winner of the All Along S. (G3) after finishing second to Aviate in the aforementioned Churchill fixture in her season debut; and the regally-bred GIANTS PLAY (Giant's Causeway), last-out winner of the New York S. (G2).
Looking for a little more luck are ZAGORA (Fr) (Green Tune) and DYNA WALTZ (GB) (Dynaformer), both seemingly overdue for an initial U.S. stakes triumph. Zagora has placed in the New York, Jenny Wiley S. (G2), Hillsborough S. (G3) and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) since her importation, while Dyna Waltz has had to settle for minor awards in the Robert G. Dick Memorial S. (G3), All Along and Gallorette H. (G3).
Perhaps the most intriguing of the Diana hopefuls is UNBRIDLED HUMOR (Distorted Humor), who only debuted last September and is now four-for-four. After a maiden win at Saratoga and an allowance score at Keeneland, both by comfortable margins, the Graham Motion charge needed all of a mile to take the Memories of Silver S. at Aqueduct by a nose. She returned from a near eight-month layoff on July 5 to take a third-level allowance at Delaware Park by 8 1/2 lengths.
Canadian Grade 2 winners BAY TO BAY (Sligo Bay [Ire]) and MEKONG MELODY (Ire) (Cape Cross [Ire]) were second and third, respectively, in the Dance Smartly S. (Can-G2) at Woodbine earlier this month. JUSTAROUNDMIDNIGHT (Ire) (Danehill Dancer) has struggled in stakes company since upsetting the Marshua's River S. (G3) in January, while the sometimes speedy ROMACACA (Running Stag) has compiled six listed stakes wins.
Also on the card is the $75,000 Hattie Moseley S. for three-year-old fillies at one mile on the inner turf.