Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Winter Memories Returns

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 20, 2011

When last we saw Winter Memories the striking grey daughter of El Prado was crossing the line second behind More than Real after a challenging trip as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Now after more than five months away from the races the impressive filly will make her highly anticipated debut Thursday at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes against a deep field. In early September of 2010 Winter Memories exploded onto the scene with a stunning maiden victory on the Saratoga turf. After rating well off the pace she worked her way through on the inside of horses to reach contention at the head of the stretch, bursting through a small seam on the rail to win going away, easily the best. Exactly one month later she made the jump from maiden ranks straight to graded stakes company in the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr.3) at Belmont Park. She turned the race into an absolute rout, coming from well off the pace to circle the field five wide into the stretch and rolling home under a strong drive to win by five lengths. She was subsequently a heavy favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr.2) but failed to win after finally breaking free of traffic in the stretch too late to catch More than Real who flew home to win impressively. Leading Kentucky Oaks contender Kathmanblu finished a fast closing third by a neck behind Winter Memories. Winter Memories has posted eight works so far this year ranging in distance from 3 to 6 furlongs. Her latest move was a slow :51.90 four furlong move. She will be facing 13 other fillies on Thursday in the Appalachian and most notably among them will be Ruthenia, Smart Sting and New Normal.

Ruthenia is a full sister to graded stakes winner Rutherienne and is undefeated in two lifetime starts that came on the turf last year. She could go off as the second favorite off the strength of her two Belmont wins and has the services of esteemed turf trainer Christophe Clement. She has posted two slow four furlong moves in preparation for her 2011 debut.

Smart Sting is another filly who is undefeated in both her lifetime starts and will be making her second start of 2011 after winning an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 16th. She posted a solid five furlong work at Keeneland on April 12th that went in 1:00.40 and most recently went four furlongs in :48.40.

New Normal finished 8th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf far behind More than Real and Winter Memories. She previously had won the Natalma Stakes (gr.3) at Woodbine on September 18 in front running fashion, defeating More than Real in the process. She’s entering the Appalachian off a bullet :46.20 four furlong work at Keeneland that ranked as the fastest of 48 works at the distance.

For the sake of time I wasn’t able to handicap the entire field so I will be rooting for Winter Memories purely from a fan’s point of view. I loved her last year and hope to see her return to the winners circle again with a eye-catching turn of foot. I also really liked Ruthenia last year but I think Winter Memories is a little ahead of her in the game right now.


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