Winter Memories, the 7-5 favorite in a field of 11, remained perfect in two starts when she used an electrifying move at the top of the stretch to pull away for an eye-catching 5 1/4-length victory in the $150,000 Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Oct. 2 at Belmont Park.
The 2-year-old daughter of El Prado is a Phillips Racing Partnership homebred. She broke her maiden by 1 1/2 lengths in her maiden special weight debut Sept. 3 at Saratoga going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. For the Miss Grillo, Jose Lezcano was back aboard the gray/roan filly, who covered 1 1/16 miles on the yielding turf course in 1:45.69. Jimmy Toner trains the winner, who is likely on her way to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Reserved near the back of the pack for six furlongs, Winter Memories put herself in winning position rounding the far turn, but was still behind a wall of horses when they straightened away. When given the cue by Lezcano, she swept six-wide into the lane and in a flash went by eight rivals rivals while taking the lead approaching the eighth pole. She continued her sensational turn of foot through the final furlong and coasted to the wire much the best.
“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 said. "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 earned $90,000 for the win and increased her earnings to $120,600. She is out of the Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver, who was a multiple grade I winner on grass.
“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.”
The winner paid $4.90, $3.90, and $3.10. The exacta (11-3) returned a hefty $214, while the trifecta (11-3-7) was worth $1,061.
Fancy Point set the pace before giving way at the top of the stretch. The Point Given filly led through fractions of :24.45, :49.47, and 1:15.04 under Javier Castellano.