Three-time graded stakes winner Winter Memories looks to bounce back from a 4th place finish in her last start in this Saturday's Grade 1 Garden City Stakes. She'll be challenged by seven other fillies, including Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf champion More Than Real, and Grade 2 Lake Placid winner Hungry Island. The Garden City is scheduled to run at nine furlongs over Belmont's inner turf course. (Post time: 5:15pm Eastern)
|1||More Than Real||C. Nakatani||T. Pletcher||8/1|
|2||Salary Drive||J. Bravo||E. Plesa, Jr.||20/1|
|3||Hungry Island||A. Solis||C. McGaughey||3/1|
|4||Winter Memories||J. Castellano||J. Toner||8/5|
|5||Arch Support||D. Cohen||G. Contessa||20/1|
|6||Kathmanblu||J. Lezcano||K. McPeek||8/1|
|7||Theyskens' Theory||G. Gomez||B. Meehan||4/1|
|8||Pinch Pie||J. Rose||A. Dutrow||10/1|
|MTO||Draw It||n/a||T. Albertrani||4/1|
After winning five of her first six races, Winter Memories finished a well-beaten 4th in the Lake Placid at Saratoga in a race run over yielding ground. While the ground condition may be a reason for her poor performance, Winter Memories has previously won graded stakes races over ground rated "Good" and "Yielding." What seems more responsible for the unlikely result was the tough trip she received as she attempted to make her move on the far turn. After failing to find room to the outside, Winter Memories was taken down to the rail at the top of the stretch where, when finally in the clear, she lacked the final kick needed to get by the leaders.
While the trip in the Lake Placid was less than ideal, we've seen Winter Memories overcome trouble in past races, most recently the Lake George where she was a mile the best when you factor in the trip. Perhaps the combination of the ground condition and the tight racing quarters at the top of the stretch was enough to keep her from her best performance that day. I'm leaning towards giving her an excuse due to the ground and trip, but I'd be lying if I didn't have a little doubt in the back of my head.
Theyskens' Theory, a sixth place finisher over dirt in last fall's Juvenile Fillies at the Breeders' Cup, ships from England to take on North American competition for the second time in her career. This filly finished well behind Immortal Verse (IRE) in her only try against Group 1 company in 2011, but she does have a couple of minor stakes wins to her credit. Theyskens' Theory has won races over ground rated "Soft" and "Good to Firm" this year, suggesting she's versatile enough to handle a variety of conditions. However, it's very likely that she'll be racing over a course much firmer than anything she's tried in Europe to this point. Tough call on this filly.
More Than Real ran against Immortal Verse in that same race at Royal Ascot and finished so far back that the winner had probably had it's picture taken by the time she crossed the wire. Her failure at Ascot isn't indicative of the quality of this filly; she's displayed good consistency in her races in North America and typcially runs her best when given firm footing. More Than Real was 3rd in the Lake George to Winter Memories and Bellamy Star in her last start in a race over ground rated "Good". The connections are probably hoping that the rain stay aways for the rest of the week.
Kathmanblu takes another shot at returning to the winner's circle, something she hasn't been able to do since late February. After a promising juvenile campaign, Kathmanblu has plateaued a bit in her sophomore season and has finished 3rd, 6th, 4th and 2nd in her last four tries. Her tactical speed will allow her to stay in the mix in the early stages, but I think she really needs to find another gear coming off the turn if she's going to get back to winning stakes races at this level.
The Garden City field includes one horse (Draw It) entered to run on the main track only.