Anyone who is trying to figure out who might be the best turf filly or mare in the country right now need look no further than the phenomenal Winter Memories, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Lake George-G3 at Saratoga today in truly spectacular fashion. She deserves all of the superlatives that will be used to describe her scintillating performance.
It wasn’t only that she trounced some very nice fillies–including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, More Than Real–it was the way she did it, after jockey Jose Lezcano had to slam on the brakes as he attempted to guide the gray El Prado filly around the far turn from the back of the pack because another horse suddenly swung out in front of him.
But then Lezcano simply pushed an invisible button and Winter Memories effortlessly turned on the afterburners and overtook the leaders in what seemed to be only a handful of strides, crossing the finish line some four lengths ahead of her stunned rivals, while being geared down. She stopped the timer in 1:41.57 as track announcer Tom Durkin exclaimed, “What a Filly! A dazzling performance at the Spa today!” Yes, indeed.
When people talk about great racehorses, they often mention heart. What they usually mean is that intangible character of courage and determination that is difficult to measure. But it’s the other kind of heart that comes to mind when you watch Winter Memories accelerate. Only a horse with a finely tuned internal combustion engine, in the guise of a superior cardiovascular system, coupled with biomechanical finesse, could do what Winter Memories did in the Lake George. With her victory today, the Phillips Racing Partnership homebred remains perfect in her three starts at three different tracks this year. She has compiled an enviable career record of 5-1-0 in six starts, with earnings of $540,000.
Winter Memories is just the latest in a long line of high-class turf performers descended from the revered Darby Dan mare, Golden Trail, ancestress of Champion Turf Mare Ryafan, Champion Turf Male Sunshine Forever, and Winter Memories’ own dam, the distinguished Silver Hawk mare, Memories of Silver. A tough and talented multiple grade I stakes winner who earned over $1.4 million during three seasons of racing, Memories of Silver notched her initial graded stakes score in the second running of the Lake George, and went on to capture the Queen Elizabeth-G1 at Keeneland in course-record time, as well as the Beverly D.-G1 and the Diana-G2.
Winter Memories is the eighth, and by far the most successful of Memories of Silver’s foals. She is bred on the same stamina-strengthening cross as the graded stakes-winning turf stars Kitten’s Joy, Senor Swinger, and Paddy O’Prado, all of whom are by El Prado out of Roberto-line mares.
Assuming that Winter Memories comes out of the Lake George in good shape, her trainer, Jimmy Toner, expects her to make her next start in the mile-and-an-eighth grassy Lake Placid-G2 at Saratoga on August 21st. Like the thousands of racing fans who were awed by the filly’s exploits today, I can’t wait.