Phillips Racing Partnership's homebred WINTER MEMORIES (El Prado [Ire]) ran away from her rivals in Sunday's $150,000 Miss Grillo S. (G3) at Belmont Park. With jockey Jose Lezcano aboard, the James Toner trainee circled the field rounding the turn and took command entering the stretch. From there, the gray lass turned the 1 1/16-mile turf test into a paid workout as she drew off under her own power to be 5 1/4 lengths clear on the wire.
"She did everything we could ask for and more," Toner said. "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. She's a big long-striding filly, so we wanted to keep her clear."
"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," Lezcano explained. "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 filly."
Winter Memories settled near the rear when the gates opened on the Miss Grillo, but Fancy Point (Point Given) was having none of that and headed straight for the front. That chestnut miss proceeded to set splits of :24 2/5, :49 2/5 and 1:15 while closely tracked on her outside by Button Girl (Mizzen Mast). Despite the slow early fractions, Fancy Point had no answer when Winter Memories suddenly burst upon the scene in the stretch. As the eventual winner powered home, Arch Support (Arch) just got up to deny Fancy Point second by a nose as the longest shot on the board at 50-1.
"We thought she would run much better than she did last time out at Saratoga (when seventh in the P.G. Johnson S.)," assistant trainer Marcelo Areanas said about Arch Support. "It was very hot that day and she was bothered by it; today was much cooler. Plus, she has been training very well leading up to this race. We're very pleased."
Winter Memories vindicated her status as the 7-5 favorite in the 11-filly field, paying $4.90, $3.90 and $3.10 for stopping the clock in 1:45 3/5 over the yielding ground. Arch Support returned $30.80 and $17 while ending the $214 exacta. Fancy Point, sent off at 5-1, was worth $5 and completed the $1,061 trifecta (11-3-7). Following the top three under the wire were Excited (Giant's Causeway), Silent Joy (Kitten's Joy), A Brilliant Idea (Afleet Alex), Pleine Forme (Grand Slam), Table Talking (Orientate), Le Mi Geaux (First Samurai), Button Girl and Sleepless Dixie (Dixie Union). Come a Callin (Dixie Union) was scratched while Atlantic Voyage (Stormy Atlantic) and Upper East Sider (Forest Wildcat) were on the also-eligible list.
The Kentucky-bred Winter Memories got up to take her maiden debut at Saratoga by 1 1/2 lengths on September 3, and was making just her second start here. The juvenile lass is now a perfect two-for-two in her career and has already accumulated $120,600 in lifetime earnings.
Winter Memories is out of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Memories of Silver (Silver Hawk), who captured eight stakes during her three seasons of racing including the 1996 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. (G1) and 1997 Beverly D. S. (G1). The bay mare also placed in the Matriarch S. (G1), Yellow Ribbon S. (G1) and Flower Bowl Invitational H. (G1) during her career and banked more than $1.4 million in earnings. Memories of Silver's first two foals were stakes winners in their own right, but she didn't have a graded-class runner until La Cloche (Ghostzapper) finished second in the Pucker Up S. (G3) on September 6. Winter Memories is now the first graded scorer for her dam.
Memories of Silver, who also has a weanling colt by Bluegrass Cat, is a half-sister to Memories (Hail the Pirates), who captured the first division of the 1988 Miss Grillo S. (G2) when it was run at Aqueduct; Grade 3-placed stakes winner Memories of Gold (Time for a Change); and Irish listed-placed Childhood Memories (The Minstrel). Memories is herself the dam of Group 3 victor Russian Revival (Nureyev) while Childhood Memories is the granddam of Grade 2-placed Liberian Freighter (Bertrando), who scored a nose win when last seen in the August 25 Harry F. Brubaker S.
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 (Robert); 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), who is most known as the dam of top sire Dynaformer (Roberto).