Saratoga: Graveyard of Favorites claims another victim

The only one who had a tighter trip than trainer Jimmy Toner was Winter Memories. Toner was surround

The only one who had a tighter trip than trainer Jimmy Toner was Winter Memories.

Toner was surrounded by reporters as he strolled into the clubhouse to watch the Lake Placid replay, tape recorders bristling in his face.

He declined to blame jockey Jose Lezcano, but his words were a little clipped as he answered questions in the wake of one of the biggest upsets of the 2011 Saratoga Race Course meets.

Hungry Island cruised down the middle of the stretch to win the Grade II Lake Placid on a yielding turf course by 21⁄2 lengths on Sunday, as Winter Memories chugged along on the rail to finish fourth, just the second defeat of the 3-year-old turf star’s career.

Winter Memories was bracketed by horses early, and when she and Lezcano tried to get in the clear coming off the turn, they were blocked on the outside by Dynamic Holiday, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, and in front by Kathmanblu.

Lezcano had just one avenue, cutting to the rail inside Trac N Jam and Wyomia.

Winter Memories, who was bet down as low as 1-9 and went off at 2-5, brushed the rail at the sixteenth pole and finished a neck behind Dynamic Holiday, who was a half-length behind runner-up Kathmanblu.

After a conference with Lezcano, Toner said, “He said the ground or whatever, she wasn’t comfortable, and basically, between horses, she’s not comfortable, either. She was in tight all the way. You know, Sar­atoga, Graveyard of Favorites.”

Dynamic Holiday seemed to be Winter Memories’ doppelganger all the way around the track, both fillies carrying green-and-white silks.

Breaking from post No. 5 in the seven-horse field, Winter Mem­ories ran between Dynamic Holiday on the outside and Trac N Jam on the inside as they followed horses into the first turn.

Winter Memories, who displayed an explosive closing kick to win the Lake George earlier in the meet, got inside down the backstretch and came away from the rail as Lezcano began to urge her for more run in mid-turn.

She came off the turn and appeared to be headed for a hole to the outside, but Dynamic Holiday closed the door, sending Lezcano back to the rail.

Hungry Island, ridden by Alex Solis and trained by Shug McGaughey, got outside on the turn and passed Dynamic Holiday and Kathmanblu in deep stretch.

“What I liked was, I think he was kind of messing with the other filly [Winter Memories] a little bit, trying to keep her down on the inside of him, and she [Hungry Island] was still able to finish that way going that far,” McGaughey said.

Asked about Lezcano’s trip, Toner said, “I don’t want to make . . . I don’t want to say that,” he said. “There’s nothing to say. That’s the way it is.

“She was trapped in the whole time. That was like the Breeders’ Cup trip, where she got inside and she just fights it, resents it. So, bas­ically, it was the same trip.”

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf was Winter Memories’ only other defeat. She was second by two lengths to More Than Real at Churchill Downs.

With the loss, she failed to dup­licate the feat of her dam, Memories of Silver, who swept the two graded turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies at the 1996 Saratoga meet.

Heavy rain just under an hour before the card started left the turf course yielding, and all grass races were moved to the main track except the mile-and-a-sixteenth Lake Placid.

“Nah, it really shouldn’t affect it,” Toner said. “Listen, when they left it on, I said, OK, I’m good with that, because she won the Miss Grillo on soft ground. There’s no excuses. You win, you win; you lose, you lose.”

“I didn’t know if Winter Mem­ories would handle that ground, but I knew we would because we’ve run on it before,” McGaughey said. “I think this is a good filly. She’s done everything we’ve wanted her to do this year. She trained good after she won at Belmont, and I really didn’t want to rush her back in the Lake George, so we waited, and she took all that well.”

Hungry Island, who went off at 9-1, won for the fourth straight time, in her graded stakes debut.

Toner inspected Winter Mem­ories’ legs during the unsaddling, and said, “She’s fine. I’m sure she’s better than me.”

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