Winter Memories, beaten for the first time this season last out as the heavy favorite, shoots for her first grade I win in the $250,000 Garden City Stakes Sept. 17 at Belmont Park.
The Phillips Racing Partnership homebred will take on seven in the 1 1/8-mile Garden City, including the filly that upset her in the Aug. 21 Lake Placid (gr. IIT), Hungry Island, and the second-place finisher of that race, Kathmanblu. Also in the field is last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) winner More Than Real, and Theyskens' Theory, a two-time added-money winner this year in England.
The lone grade I race in North America on Saturday, the Garden City is slated for a 5:18 p.m. EDT start.
Though the Lake Placid was run over Saratoga’s yielding turf, trainer Jimmy Toner said the condition of the course was not an excuse for Winter Memories’ fourth-place finish as the 2-5 favorite. He said a more plausible reason for her only off-the-board finish of her career was that she was trapped along the inside most of the way and between horses, which are places that she doesn’t like to be. The daughter of El Prado—Memories of Silver, by Silver Hawk, was beaten 3 1/4 lengths that day for her only loss in four starts in 2011.
“I would like for her to make amends for her last race,” said Toner. “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.”
The gray/roan filly is a four-time graded stakes winner, including the May 30 Sands Point (gr. IIT), which also came over the Belmont turf course. Javier Castellano will have the mount on the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the first time, replacing Jose Lezcano.
Winter Memories will point toward the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) Oct. 15 at Keeneland for her next race.
Emory Hamilton’s homebred Hungry Island recorded her fourth consecutive win in the Lake Placid, scoring by 2 1/2 rallying lengths in her graded stakes debut. The Shug McGaughey trainee began her win streak in early May at Belmont when breaking her maiden in her fifth try, then recorded two more victories over the same turf course in a first-level allowance race and the July 2 Recording Stakes.
“I think that last race was obviously her best race,” said McGaughey's assistant Buzz Tenney. “All summer long we’ve seen improvement, and I think there’s room for more improvement, too.”
Hungry Island, sent off at 9-1 in the Lake Placid, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning-line. Alex Solis was assigned to ride the More Than Ready filly once again.
Kathmanblu, a two-time graded stakes winner, will try to stop a four-race losing streak under Lezcano, who ironically replaces Castellano. The Bluegrass Cat filly’s last trip to the winner’s circle came in the Feb. 19 Rachel Alexandra (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. This will be her first start at Belmont. Ken McPeek trains Kathmanblu for Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables.
Bobby Flay’s More Than Real was off for more than seven months after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last November. The Todd Pletcher trainee resurfaced in June at Ascot, finishing 11th in the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I). In her return to U.S. racing she was beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Winter Memories in the July 27 Lake George (gr. IIT) at Saratoga. Corey Nakatani will have the mount.
Andrew Rosen’s Theyskens' Theory was one of the favorites for the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last fall, but finished sixth in her only start on dirt. The Bernardini filly has won twice in three starts in England this season for trainer Brian Meehan, her only loss coming when eighth in the Coronation. A group III winner, Theyskens’ Theory will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.
$250,000 Garden City (gr. IT, Race 9 5:18 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. More Than Real (KY), C S Nakatani, 120, T A Pletcher, 8-1
2. Salary Drive (KY), J Bravo, 116, E Plesa Jr., 20-1
3. Hungry Island (KY), A O Solis, 120, C R McGaughey III, 3-1
4. Winter Memories (KY), J Castellano, 123, J J Toner, 8-5
5. Arch Support (KY), D Cohen, 116, G C Contessa, 20-1
6. Kathmanblu (KY), J Lezcano, 118, K G McPeek, 8-1
7. Theyskens' Theory (KY), G K Gomez, 118, B Meehan, 4-1
8. Pinch Pie (KY), J Rose, 116, A W Dutrow, 10-1 Main Track Only 9. Draw It (KY), No Rider, 116, T Albertrani, 4-1