Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Best of Three Continents?

Posted by Brian Appleton on September 20, 2011

Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana probably didn’t have horse racing in mind when she sang the words, “Best of both worlds”, but that line could easily be applied to turf super-stars, Winter Memories, Black Caviar and Goldikova. Though in this case, it’s the best of all three “worlds”.

You know something special has taken place in the racing world when three days after an event, the web is still abuzz with news and online forums are lit-up with excited back and forth debates and chatter. That is exactly what Winter Memories scintillating performance in the Garden City Stakes has evoked since her dazzling turn of foot at Belmont Park Saturday. I won’t linger over the details of Winter Memories bad trip again, as that has been exhaustively covered in the last three days, but there are interesting things worth noting about her win.

When Winter Memories wins, she does it with little or no help from the jockey. Some will disagree with me on this, but the rider switch to Javier Castellano, who I think is a terrific rider, did absolutely nothing to help Winter Memories pick up her first Grade 1 win. Castellano gave her a terrible ride, forcing her lose position after breaking well and running comfortably in behind the pacesetters approaching the first turn, then keeping her under a strangle hold and allowing horses to block her path to the outside as the field navigated the turn. Entering the stretch it was clear to everyone that Castellano had Winter Memories in what appeared to be an impossible position and still he did nothing, waiting instead until the final furlong when Hungry Island moved up on the outside to swing Winter Memories into the clear. Please don’t misunderstand the point I am trying to make here, which is not to bash Javier Castellano, but to praise the ability of Winter Memories to rouse herself to such a super-horse effort and win. Despite not being allowed to run her race until the final furlong of the stretch, the El Prado filly traveled her final 1/8 of a mile in an astounding 10.6. That is unheard of in racing. Even a sub-11 final 1/8 is unheard of, and the fact that she did it in a hand ride and was eased just before hitting the wire makes it all the more astonishing.

She received a 93 Beyer in the Garden City Stakes which at first glance may seem low, but keep in mind she wasn’t able to utilize the length of the stretch this time like she was in the Lake George Stakes where she received a career best 95 Beyer. Imagine what she might have been assigned if allowed clear running room.

It appears the final start of 2011 for the Jimmy Toner trained filly will be in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr.1) at Keeneland on October 15th. Winter Memories would almost surely meet Grade 1 winner Summer Soiree in the Queen Elizabeth II, which would set up for one of most exciting turf filly matchups of the year. Summer Soiree has lost just once this year, much like Winter Memories, though she finished far up the track in 10th while contesting the Kentucky Oaks. Since then the War Front filly has done no wrong, winning the Grade 3 Boiling Springs Stakes by more than eight lengths, and capturing the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks by half a length in her most recent start. Summer Soiree started the year with two runaway wins before finishing out of the money in the Kentucky Oaks; First a 9 ¾ length allowance romp which she followed up with a 10 ¾ length rout in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks in late March. The Queen Elizabeth II should be an excellent match up, and with Hungry Island and possibly Pucker Up (gr.3) winner, Marketing Mix, also heading to the Queen Elizabeth, this field is beginning to look Breeders’ Cup worthy. [Read the complete post about Winter Memories, Goldikova and Black Caviar at HRN on Distaff Runner]

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