In the late 1990s, the Phillips family and trainer Jimmy Toner campaigned the outstanding filly Memories of Silver, who went on to become a two-time grade I winner and a millionaire. A decade and half later, her daughter, Winter Memories is showing similar promise for the same connections, and is taking the same path to stardom.
In 1996 as a 3-year-old, Memories of Silver began her stakes career by winning the Lake George at Saratoga, followed up with an eye-popping six-length victory in the Nijana Stakes (gr. IIIT), and then tallied the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) in course record time at Keeneland.
Already a graded stakes winner at 2, Winter Memories began her sophomore season by winning the Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland and Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIT) at Belmont, and in July scored the Lake George Stakes (gr. IIT) in the same electrifying fashion as her dam, running away by 4 1/2 lengths for her fifth win in six lifetime starts.
This weekend at Saratoga, Winter Memories looks to follow in her dam’s footsteps again when she will go off as the heavy favorite in the Aug. 21 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid (gr. IIT), previously known as the Nijana. And wouldn’t you know it, Toner said the main goal for Winter Memories this year is none other than the QE II.
“Both are pretty much on the same schedule,” said Toner during a national teleconference Aug. 16. “They are two different types of horses but they are basically doing the same thing. If (Winter Memories) can continue on and follow in her mother’s footsteps I think it would be great.
“The goal from the beginning of the year has been the Queen Elizabeth. It’s a (tradition) of the Phillips family and Darby Dan. I won it twice for them and they won it three times previously. So it’s one of their main objectives every year if they have a filly that looks they have that quality about them.”
The Phillips family, which founded and still operates Darby Dan Farm near Lexington, won the QE II with Graceful Darby in 1987, the following year with Love You by Heart, and again in 1990 with Plenty of Grace. Toner teamed up with the Phillips family in 1993 to win the prestigious race with Tribulation, and then again in 1996 with Memories of Silver.
“(Memories of Silver) was a small, compact type; quick as a cat,” Toner said. “(Winter Memories) is a big, scopy filly. You would think she would take more time to get in stride, but she gets herself together pretty quickly and accelerates quickly. But they are two different types of horses.”
Winter Memories will be going 1 1/8 miles for the first time in the Lake Placid but Toner doesn’t think it will be any problem—provided she gets enough pace to run at. Winter Memories does her best running from off the pace.
“I don’t think the distance will make any difference; it’s more about the pace scenario,” Toner said. “At a mile and a sixteenth you know you’re going to have pace, but the further they go the less pace in the race. It’s a different type of race for her.”
To date, Winter Memories’ lone defeat came in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf when she finished second to More Than Real as the heavy favorite when experiencing a less than ideal trip. With the QE II the main goal and coming three weeks before this year’s Breeders’ Cup, Toner was non-committal when asked if a return trip is in her future.
“We’ll take one race at a time,” he said. “We’ll worry about that later. Things have a way of taking care of themselves.”