Updated 07/28/2012 06:38 PM
The Spa Spot: Popular Winter Memories captures Grade 1 Diana
Winter Memories matched her mother, Memories of Silver, with a victory Saturday in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga Race Course.
Under jockey Javier Castellano, Winter Memories stalked a moderate pace set by Tapitsfly, went on the attack early with an emphatic move in the second turn and rolled to an impressive 1 1/2-length win over Euro invader Dream Peace. Defending champ Zagora, trained by by Chad Brown of Mechanicville, was third. Winter Memories was the 8-5 favorite and paid $5.50 to win.
Memories of Silver captured the Diana in 1998 and her gray daughter added the 1 1/8 miles race on the inner turf course to her resume and - like her mom - moved over $1 million in career earnings. Both Memories of Silver and Winter Memories are owned by Phillips Racing Partnership and trained by Jimmy Toner.
Tapitsfly turned in a front-running victory in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont Park,holding off Winter Memories' powerful late run. With the course softened a bit by rain and Law of The Range providing a little pace pressure, Tapitsfly was not able to get away with dawdling fractions. Also, Castellano was careful to stay within range to the pace after the previous two turf races on Saturday were won by front-runners.
"There was no pace and we were closer to it just the way the race was shaping up," Toner said. "I left it in Javi's hands and said 'Look, do what you want to do, but I wouldn't let her get too far away from us today.' (Law of The Range) put a little pressure on that filly, Javi got after her a little bit sooner today and I think that ground helped us, too."
Winter Memories won for the eighth time in 12 career races and visited the Saratoga winner's circle for the third consecutive year.
“I am very fortunate to ride this filly," Castellano said. "She’s very honest. She’s a nice filly. I was concerned a little bit because it was a small field. I would have liked to cover her up a little bit at the beginning of the race. There wasn't much speed in the race. That was my concern.
"It worked out great. It was amazing. She was able to cover up. She was able to finish so well today. Tapitsfly took advantage the last time [in the Just a Game]. There was not much speed in that race and it was a short distance. Today was my opportunity. My filly is a 1 1/8-mile or a 1 ¼-mile horse. She likes the two turns. She likes to cover up and she gave me that kick.”