The reasons I love seeing the name “El Prado [IRE]" in a horse’s pedigree, let me count the ways: Artie Schiller, Medaglia d’Oro, Paddy O’Prado, Winter Memories, Kitten’s Joy, Grassy, En Fuego… I’ll stop there with just a few of the first generation before I really get going!
And I thought this wasn’t going to be a great weekend of racing…
Despite being sent off as the favorite in a field of 8 great turf fillies, Winter Memories earned a lot of skepticism from the crowds. The hot streak of 4 that carried Hungry Island to a win over Memories in the Lake Placid (II), the uprising spring star Kathmanblu, and Euro shipper Theyskens’ Theory were all on board to tackle the gray filly. But clearly, she was to have none of it.
In a thrilling show of resolve and courage, Winter Memories flung herself Zenyatta-style from around a wall of five horses to first position to win her first, and very well-deserved, grade I win in the Garden City (I) today at Belmont. The daughter of El Prado received no breaks from her classy competition, as she was caught in the back of the pack for most of her trip only to encounter no shortcuts as she circled wide coming for home in a desperate late charge.
BC Juvenile Fillies Turf winner More Than Real looked to be back on her A-game, setting up smooth fractions as the early leader and was followed by Arch Support and a very eager Kathmanblu for a very easy :26 and change for the first quarter. Hungry Island and Winter Memories, both key favorites, were back for the early goings. Around the clubhouse turn, Winter Memories continued to fall back as Theyskens’ Theory ran into clear running room. Turning for home, it turned into a tussle of turf, every filly for herself in a wide open race. Hungry Island looked to block Winter Memories in from the outside, but Javier Castellano managed to reel back in, losing precious ground, and go around Hungry Island, bounding powerfully to pass Theyskens’ Theory for the win.
Should there be a queen of the turf, Winter Memories surely showed she’s worthy of such a crown. I am unabashedly, now more than ever, one of her diehard fans.