Facing Winter Memories would seem an unenviable task for anyone right now, which is why the NYRA stakes coordinators should be commended for actually finding six 3-year-old fillies to face her in the $150,000 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid (gr. IIT) Aug. 21 at Saratoga.
The daughter of El Prado drew post 4 and will carry top weight of 122 pounds in the feature. A winner of three consecutive graded stakes this year, Winter Memories will again be the heavy favorite under Jose Lezcano. The 4-5 morning-line choice, she will take on a couple of in-form fillies that also boast three-race win streaks—Hungry Island and Trac N Jam—as well as two-time graded stakes winner Kathmanblu.
Rick Dutrow Jr. will being doing a rain dance Sunday, as he entered three main track only fillies. Thunderstorms are in the forecast all weekend in Saratoga Springs, so there is a chance the 1 1/8-mile race could be rained off the turf.
Winter Memories, a homebred of Phipps Racing Partnership and trained by Jimmy Toner, has won all three starts this season—the Appalachian (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland, the Sands Point (gr. IIT) at Belmont, and the Lake George (gr. IIT) July 27 at Saratoga when displaying a devastating turn of foot in the stretch to run away by 4 1/2 lengths on a turf course labeled good. She was the odds-on favorite in all three of those races and is likely to be again in the Lake Placid, where she will travel nine furlongs for the first time.
“It was an incredible turn of foot, and I don’t think she had that last year,” said Toner of the Lake George effort by Winter Memories, whose only career defeat came when she was second to More Than Real in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. “I don’t think the distance will make any difference to her. I think the pace scenario is a question mark, because you like to have pace."
Winter Memories, five-for-six lifetime with earnings of $540,600, is out of the Phillips’ Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver, who won this race in 1996 for Toner when it was called the Nijana (gr. IIIT). Toner also won the event in 2002 with Wonder Again.
Emory Hamilton’s homebred Hungry Island has passed every test since breaking her maiden in May at Belmont. The daughter of More Than Ready responded with an entry-level allowance victory in June and an easy win in the Recording Stakes July 2—both at Belmont. Shug McGaughey trains the bay filly, who will be ridden by Alex Solis.
“She’s had a good month up here, and she’s had some time between her races,” said McGaughey. “Her last race was her best, and I think she’s going to improve off that. I think she’ll give a good account of herself; it’s just a question of whether she’s good enough.”
Andrew Hanson trainee Trac N Jam has also taken a steady progression, winning maiden and allowance races at Arlington Park in June before taking the Indiana Downs Distaff July 13. The El Corredor filly will once again have the services of jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan.
Kathmanblu, once among the division leaders, seeks her first win since the Rachel Alexandra (gr. III) in February at Fair Grounds. She is 0-for-3 since that time, including a fourth-place effort in the June 18 Regret (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. Trained by Ken McPeek, the Bluegrass Cat filly has recorded three of her five lifetime wins on grass. Javier Castellano will be in the irons.
“It’s kind of a tough race to come back with Winter Memories in top form, but she has shown she’s really good on the grass, and we thought it was a good step forward,” said McPeek.
The other graded stakes winner in the field is Augustin Stable’s homebred Dynamic Holiday, who scored in the Herecomesthebride (gr. IIIT) two starts back. Winner of the Tropical Park Oaks and Florida Oaks earlier this year, she had her three-race win streak snapped last out in the July 16 Virginia Oaks (gr. IIT) when fifth. Ramon Dominguez will ride for Graham Motion.
Also in the mix is Wyomia, who was third in the Virginia Oaks and runner-up in the grade I Central Bank Ashland; and Bellamy Star, runner-up to Winter Memories in the Lake George.
$150,000 Lake Placid (gr. IIT, Race 4, 2:39 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Bellamy Star (FL), J R Velazquez, 118, T A Pletcher, 8-1
2. Trac N Jam (KY), J V Bridgmohan, 118, A M Hansen, 20-1
3. Wyomia (KY), F Lenclud, 116, C L Garrison, 10-1
4. Winter Memories (KY), J Lezcano, 122, J J Toner, 4-5
5. Kathmanblu (KY), J Castellano, 118, K G McPeek, 8-1
6. Hungry Island (KY), A O Solis, 118, C R McGaughey III, 5-1
7. Dynamic Holiday (PA), R A Dominguez, 120, H G Motion, 6-1
Main Track Only
8a. Believe in A. P. (KY), 116, R E Dutrow Jr.
9. Indian Tale (MD), 3/F L 116, R E Dutrow Jr.
10a. Tiz the Argument (FL), 116, R E Dutrow Jr.