Garden City Clash Looms Saturday
GARDEN CITY CLASH LOOMS SATURDAY
Winter Memories, Hungry Island clash in Garden City
An outstanding field of three-year-old fillies will vie for their first Grade 1 victory Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park in the 34th running of the $250,000 Garden City S.
Heading the pack for the 1 1/8-mile turf race is 8-5 morning-line favorite WINTER MEMORIES (El Prado [Ire]), looking to rebound from her first loss of the year in the August 21 Lake Placid S. (G2) at Saratoga. The strapping gray miss finally found room in the stretch after a troubled trip in that nine-furlong contest but never kicked in when finishing fourth behind HUNGRY ISLAND (More Than Ready).
With new jockey Javier Castellano aboard for the Garden City, trainer Jimmy Toner is hopeful Winter Memories will again flash the form that carried her to a 5-1-0 mark from six previous starts, including the Sands Point S. (G2), Lake George S. (G2), Miss Grillo S. (G3) and Appalachian S. (G3).
"I would like for her to make amends for her last race," said Toner, who also saddled the filly to a runner-up finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2). "I certainly don't want to take anything away from Hungry Island, who ran a great race. I just hope she can run her race, is all."
Winter Memories drew post position 4 for the Garden City, in which she will carry high weight of 123 pounds.
Hungry Island will attempt to continue the win streak started when she broke her maiden in early May (Melissa Wirth/Horsephotos.com)
Hungry Island will be going for her fifth straight win, having extended the streak to four in the Lake Placid with a last-to-first run that carried her to a 2 1/2-length victory over KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat). No worse than third in eight career starts, the Shug McGaughey trainee has won three of her four starts over Belmont's turf courses.
"I think that last race was obviously her best race," assistant trainer Buzz Tenney said. "All summer long we've seen improvement and I think there's room for more improvement, too."
Hungry Island, whose lone loss at Belmont came last October when she was second to Ruthenia (Pulpit) in a maiden race, will be ridden by Alex Solis from post 3 as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
Others in with a chance include Grade 2 winner Kathmanblu and MORE THAN REAL (More Than Ready), winner of last year's Juvenile Fillies Turf over Winter Memories.
Lake Placid runner-up Kathmanblu will be making her third Grade 1 appearance, having finished third in the Ashland S. (G1) in April over Keeneland's Polytrack followed by a sixth-place run in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Churchill Downs' dirt track. Subsequently switched back to the turf, the bay lass was fourth in the Regret S. (G3) under the Twin Spires prior to the Lake Placid.
More Than Real easily held Winter Memories in the BC last year and will seek to do so again here (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)
The lightly raced More Than Real traveled to Royal Ascot to open her three-year-old season with an 11th-place finish in the June 17 Coronation S. (Eng-G1), and returned stateside in time to run third in the Lake George a little over a month later. The chestnut filly, who carries the colors of celebrity chef Bobby Flay, hasn't been seen in competition since that latter event.
"She just arrived this morning from Saratoga," said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "Her condition is good, and she looks as good as I've ever seen her. The Lake Placid was her first race since the disappointment in England; hopefully she will improve off that."
Returning to the turf after a third-place finish in the Alabama S. (G1) is the Tony Dutrow-trained PINCH PIE (Victory Gallop), who is is 2-0-1 in three grass starts this year, including a victory in the Desert Vixen S. at Monmouth on July 24.
"I feel she handles the turf excellently," Dutrow said. "I think she's even better now than she was going into the Alabama. There's so much to gain from running in a Grade 1 race like this and I'm giving her, and our team, the opportunity."
Rounding out the field are THEYSKENS' THEORY (Bernardini), a Group 3 winner in England who most recently took the Atalanta S. at Sandown; SALARY DRIVE (Mizzen Mast), who captured the Dauphin Miss S. at Penn National last out; and ARCH SUPPORT (Arch), winner of a Saratoga turf allowance at the Garden City distance on September 1. Stakes-placed DRAW IT (Tapit) is listed as a main-track only entrant.