Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Winter Memories Chasing 2nd Grade 1

Posted by Brian Appleton on October 14, 2011

The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr.1) is setting up as a terrific clash of the nation’s overwhelmingly best sophomore turf fillies. Of the eight 3-year-old entrants set to contest the 1 1/8 mile contest, six of them are graded stakes winners and three are grade 1 winners. The two fillies that have no graded stakes win to their records enter the Queen Elizabeth off runner up efforts in Grade 1 stakes races. Leading this impressive cast of fillies are Grade 1 winners are Winter Memories and Summer Soiree. If ever there was a more powerful sophomore filly duo facing off on the turf in recent memory, I can’t think of one.

Winter Memories will undoubtedly be bet down as the heavy favorite by post time, but Summer Soiree will be a very strong second choice. Both fillies have racked up four wins in five start this year, both won the first Grade 1 of their career in their most recent starts. The similarities stop there. Winter Memories possesses perhaps the most deadly turn of foot seen in the United States since Goldikova dismantled her third-consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr.1) last fall. She usually drops to the rear of the field, bides her time until finding a clear path in the stretch, and then unleashes an unearthly rally that propels her to the lead within a matter of moments. In her last start Winter Memories created a stunning moment of brilliance when she won the Garden City Stakes (gr.1). After entering the stretch dead last, with nowhere to go behind a wall of horses, jockey Javier Castellano moved the El Prado filly into the clear just a few strides before the finish and the talented filly responded with an explosion that thrust her neck ahead at the wire. She will enter the Queen Elizabeth off just two works, but fitness will not be an issue.

Summer Soiree’s forte is speed, she wants the lead from the moment the gates spring open. This daughter of War Front started her year with a 9 ¾ length romp at Oaklawn Park in a 1 1/16 mile allowance race on the dirt, then followed that up with a powerful 10 ¾ length win in the 1 mile Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface. Less than two months later, Summer Soiree finished 10th in the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) after setting the pace and fading in the stretch. Brought back in the 1 1/16 mile Boiling Springs Stakes (gr.3) on the Monmouth Park turf course, the Graham Motion trained filly again romped by 8 ½ lengths. Brought back two months later, Summer Soiree again set the pace in the 1 1/8 mile Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, and just lasted for the win by a half length over fellow Queen Elizabeth entrants Star Billing, and Nereid. She enters off three works, and in typical War Front-offspring fashion, they are speedy, solid works that will have this filly ready to once again run strong on the front end. She’ll be facing the toughest closer of her career in Winter Memories, which means she’ll have to run the race of a lifetime to win. The distance is 1 1/8 miles once again, so she will have to run better than she did in the Del Mar Oaks if she wants to hold on for the win this time.

When you look past the top two in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes one several names pop out from entry list; 2010Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr.1) winner More Than Real, Pucker Up Stakes winner Marketing Mix, Del Mar Oaks runner-up Star Billing as well as Del Mar Oaks third place finisher Nereid, and Together, runner-up in the First Lady Stakes (gr.1) last weekend at Keeneland. [Read the complete post here on Distaff Runner at Horse Racing Nation]



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