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My Memories of Winter Memories

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The first time I watched her I was not a fan.

Normally, I don’t like rooting for favorites, and that is the biggest reason why I did not favor Winter Memories in the 2010 Juvenile Fillies Turf event at the Breeders’ Cup. Instead, I was rooting for my Oaks filly, the Bluegrass Cat do-it-all daughter Kathmanblu. Coming down the stretch, it was Bobby Flay’s filly More Than Real who pulled off the upset, as the gray blur known as Winter Memories got trapped down on the rail to get second. Kathmanblu was a heroic third in a race normally dominated by European-breds. Truth be told, when I first watched Winter Memories, I had little interest in grass races. They were oddities compared to their distant dirt cousins, slow runnings on a fickle surface that varied from spongey to firm, climaxing in a harried and often jumbled dash to the wire when the stretch came into view. What was to love about these races that were won by unfamiliar faces?

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Wabbajack would have made my day at the Belmont Stakes had he won and ensured a nice double payoff for me, but instead I left empty-handed. Although she is most likely going to have to dream on, my mother hasn’t stopped talking about him and how much she wants to get him should he have to retire prematurely with dim stud prospects… (Photo from Ninety North Racing)

Wabbajack would have made my day at the Belmont Stakes had he won and ensured a nice double payoff for me, but instead I left empty-handed. Although she is most likely going to have to dream on, my mother hasn’t stopped talking about him and how much she wants to get him should he have to retire prematurely with dim stud prospects… (Photo from Ninety North Racing)

Bold Ruler defeats Clem at Belmont Park in 1958. The race is either the Toboggan Handicap or the Suburban Handicap. (Photo by NYRA/Bob Coglianese)

Bold Ruler defeats Clem at Belmont Park in 1958. The race is either the Toboggan Handicap or the Suburban Handicap. (Photo by NYRA/Bob Coglianese)

Food for Derby thought: In the 1970s, trainer Lou Rondinello would receive stock to train from top quality stamina sires to prepare for the Triple Crown, but would never work them fast. His nickname?: “Fifty-Two Lou.” His strategy seemed to work out okay with the 1974 Preakness and Belmont winner Little Current, who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby after being dead last for most of the race.

Food for Derby thought: In the 1970s, trainer Lou Rondinello would receive stock to train from top quality stamina sires to prepare for the Triple Crown, but would never work them fast. His nickname?: “Fifty-Two Lou.” His strategy seemed to work out okay with the 1974 Preakness and Belmont winner Little Current, who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby after being dead last for most of the race.

I’ll Have Another: Charging Toward History

I agree. It's ridiculously biased (not to mention uneducated and negative) that Union Rags' Belmont win is off the ballot, yet something so fickle as a /scratch/ could possibly be entertained as the biggest moment of the year. Pure madness... thanks for posting.

Asked by horseracingchick-deactivated201

:) Oh goody. I was secretly worried someone might have told me I was the biased one in suggesting I would have preferred a Union Rags-Paynter battle ballot for the Belmont. I’ve long been a hardcore, stubborn Rags fan who wanted him to win and believed he could even while IHA was still planned to race.

I may be biased on how high I rank the Belmont when I do my “best/most exciting races of the year” countdown, but honestly I think that’s about it.

Derby Watch: Hope for Invasor

Last year presented the very first crop to race from the seemingly unstoppable, globe-trotting sensation Invasor [ARG], who deflected top fields whether he was in Dubai or California or just about anywhere else. Unfortunately, we have barely seen anything worthwhile come from this champion— his biggest claim to fame was Five Sixteen, a one-time winner who raced 5th in the Belmont and was runner-up to Street Life in the Curlin Stakes. Feeling a bit downtrodden at this poor note, there is some good news on the horizon for fans of the Argentinian beast in recent maiden winner Saint Arthur.

A New York-bred, the odds of Saint Arthur succeeding are already stacked against him as a son of Invasor [ARG], but it’s his game mindset that makes him a fitting underdog. He chased a doozy of a pace in his debut race at Saratoga to finish 3rd, missing the win by just a length. From there he shipped to Finger Lakes to make his stakes debut in the full Aspirant Stakes barely two weeks later, breaking slow to make the lead at the half and tired late after making up ground early. Three weeks later, he was entered in another well-filled Finger Lakes stake for the 6-furlong New York Breeders’ Futurity, getting glued to the inside to finish 3rd beaten a smidgen for the place and only 1 1/4 lengths for the win.

Returning to upper-crust Belmont at 25-1 odds, he changed tactics slightly by gunning for the lead right away in the 7-furlong Bertram Bongard Stakes— an important New York-bred prep won by Funny Cide in the past— but was caught in the stretch by heavy favorite Weekend Hideaway and finished strong to place in the race off by 2. After drilling the fastest of 55 works at the 4-furlong distance at Belmont, he at long last won an Aqueduct MSW on Saturday, wiring the field while out-dueling Pleasure Principle the whole way, the two keeping some 8-9 lengths between them and the rest of the field.

Further down south, another interesting Invasor is making progress towards his first win. Raced three times at three very different tracks (Turfway, Keeneland on grass, and Calder’s dirt course), Succesful Brothers has an annoying misspelled name, but sports a very unusual pedigree and flight path. His dam is Contagious [GB], an unsuccessful turf racer by Polar Falcon, a Nureyev son who was a graded stakes winner in Europe. Contagious has produced a winner in her first foal One Thousand is a half to group III winner Headstrong [IRE]. Any further research about Contagious’s dam Rash [GB] turns up empty.

Last out at Calder, he closed from the rear of the 7-furlong test after a poor start and went wide to be 2nd. The crowd favored him well enough to make him the post-time favorite, but he could not reach bomber Narvarez, who paid an enormous $87.20 for a $2 win bet. Trained by juvie pro Wesley Ward, this chestnut colt’s last race was a mild move to be 5th in a 9-furlong turf maiden race and he cut his teeth on Turfway’s all-weather over a mile to be 2nd. He’s just got to be close to a win by now…

Whether or not these two can accomplish enough improvement in time to earn some essential Derby points is the biggest question of all, with Saint Arthur being a speedster and Succesful Brothers sitting back. Invasor [ARG] has gotten an extremely slow start despite his list of impressive accolades… while he liked to sit off the pace a while in his races, can he catch up off the track?

Canonero II before his Triple Crown run in the 1977 Belmont (I). Pure awesome in a little bay horse. (Photo from LIFE Magazine archives)

Canonero II before his Triple Crown run in the 1977 Belmont (I). Pure awesome in a little bay horse. (Photo from LIFE Magazine archives)

Make way, lowly peasants! To Honor and Serve needs that rail in the Woodward (I)! (Photo by Skip Dickstein)

Make way, lowly peasants! To Honor and Serve needs that rail in the Woodward (I)! (Photo by Skip Dickstein)

The best girl in the world after winning the Le Slew Stakes— Awesome Feather! (Photo by NYRA)

The best girl in the world after winning the Le Slew Stakes— Awesome Feather! (Photo by NYRA)

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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