Top Turf Fillies Vie For Grade 1 Glory in Saturday's Garden City
By New York Racing Association
ELMONT, N.Y. – Having already collected nine graded stakes wins among them, an outstanding field of 3-year-old fillies will vie for their first Grade 1 victory Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park in the 34th running of the $250,000 Garden City.
Heading the pack for the 1 1/8-mile turf race, which will be broadcast live on MSG Plus from 5-5:30 p.m. EDT, is 8-5 morning-line favorite Winter Memories, looking to rebound from her first loss of the year. Sent off as the odds-on choice in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga Race Course on August 21, the strapping gray daughter of El Prado finally found room in the stretch after a troubled trip but never kicked in when finishing fourth behind Hungry Island.
With new jockey Javier Castellano aboard for the Garden City, trainer Jimmy Toner is hopeful Winter Memories will again flash the form that carried her to a 5-1-0 mark from six previous starts, including four graded stakes wins.
“I would like for her to make amends for her last race,” said Toner, who has saddled Winter Memories to win 2010’s Grade 3 Miss Grillo and the Grade 3 Appalachian, the Grade 2 Sands Point and the Grade 2 Lake George this year. “I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Hungry Island, who ran a great race. I just hope she can run her race, is all.”
Winter Memories drew post position 4 for the Garden City, in which she will carry high weight of 123 pounds.
Hungry Island will be going for her fifth straight win, having extended the streak to four in the 1 1/8-mile Lake Placid with a last-to-first run that carried her to a 2 ½-length victory over Kathmanblu. No worse than third in eight career starts, the More Than Ready filly has won three of her four starts over Belmont’s turf courses.
“I think that last race was obviously her best race,” said Buzz Tenney, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, of Hungry Island. “All summer long we’ve seen improvement and I think there’s room for more improvement, too.”
Hungry Island, whose lone loss at Belmont came last October when she was second to Ruthenia in a maiden race, will be ridden by Alex Solis from post 3 as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
Lake Placid runner-up Kathmanblu will be making her third Grade 1 appearance, having finished third in the Grade 1 Ashland in April over the artificial surface at Keeneland followed by a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. Subsequently switched back to the turf, the Bluegrass Cat filly was fourth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs in June prior to the Lake Placid.
Jose Lezcano rides Kathmanblu, 8-1 on the morning line, from post 6.
More Than Real closed out her 2010 campaign with a victory over Winter Memories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, then traveled to Ascot to open her 3-year-old season with an 11th-place finish in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes on June 17, after which she finished third in the Lake George.
“She just arrived this morning from Saratoga,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “Her condition is good, and she looks as good as I’ve ever seen her. The Lake Placid was her first race since the disappointment in England; hopefully she will improve off that.”
More Than Real, who carries the colors of celebrity chef Bobby Flay, drew the rail and was listed at 8-1 on the morning line. Corey Nakatani will ride.
Returning to the turf after a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Alabama to Royal Delta is the Tony Dutrow-trained Pinch Pie. The Victory Gallop filly is 2-0-1 in three grass starts this year, including a victory in the Desert Vixen at Monmouth on July 24.
“I feel she handles the turf excellently,” said Dutrow, who conditions Pinch Pie for Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables. “I think she’s even better now than she was going into the Alabama. There’s so much to gain from running in a Grade 1 race like this and I’m giving her, and our team, the opportunity.”
Pinch Pie, 10-1 on the morning line, drew post position 8 with Jeremy Rose in the irons.
Rounding out the field are Theyskens’ Theory, a Group 3 winner in Europe who most recently took the De Vere Venues Atalanta Stakes at Sandown; Salary Drive, who captured the Dauphin Miss at Penn National last time out, and Arch Support, winner of a Saratoga turf allowance at the Garden City distance on September 1.
Draw It was entered Main Track Only.