09/18/2011 11:36AM

Winter Memories, and Rapid Redux

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There have been a few performances that might have been equally impressive, but for my money, there has been no performance this year that was more impressive than Winter Memories’s victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Garden City Stakes at Belmont.

There is really no need to go into every detail here of what on Saturday was Winter Memories’s third straight bad trip, other than to say that after turning for home, Winter Memories was last, blocked behind a wall of horses, her late kick having to have been compromised to at least some extent by a very slow pace, and time quickly running out. You really do have to see the replay to fully appreciate what Winter Memories did, and you can find the Garden City replay on this website. Her late run that carried her to victory really will take your breath away.

What does deserve closer examination is the potency of Winter Memories’s late kick Saturday. After fractions of 26.40, 51.60, and 1:16.12, the fourth quarter of the nine furlong Garden City was run in 23.65, and the final furlong was run in 11.29. Winter Memories was 3 lengths back at the three-quarter mile call, and was 3 ½ lengths back, still last of eight, at the stretch call at the eighth pole. That means Winter Memories went her last three eighths in approximately 34.43, and her last furlong in approximately 10.69.

Those late fractions are incredible, but even more so when you consider that while both of Belmont’s turf courses Saturday were listed as firm, the turf was nowhere near the kind of baked hard turf courses you often see during the peak of summer. This was the wettest August on record in the New York area, and with the sun at a much lower angle that it was in June and July, and even early August, you just can’t get the kind of hard and lightning fast turf courses in this neck of the woods at this time of year. But the final times of the other four turf races on both grass courses at Belmont also provide evidence that the ground Winter Memories absolutely scorched on late had a fair amount of give to it.

The other point that must be underscored here is that Winter Memories did not blow past a bunch of crows in the Garden City. Runner up Theyskens’ Theory was a Group 3 winner and Group 1 placed in England, third-place finisher More Than Real was a winner of a Breeders’ Cup race last fall (over Winter Memories), and fourth-place finisher Hungry Island had won four straight. That Winter Memories was able to overwhelm such capable company Saturday is yet another reason why she was so impressive.

While on the subject of nice horses, a word about Rapid Redux, who on Friday night at Charles Town won his 17th consecutive race, bettering by one the long wins streaks held by Citation and Cigar, and pulling within two of the North American record of 19 straight wins shared by Zenyatta and Peppers Pride.

During the course of his win streak, which dates back to December 2 of last year, Rapid Redux has won over seven different tracks at distances ranging from five to nine furlongs. It should also be noted that this 5-year-old gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect won two of three and five of nine starts before his streak began. So in addition to having won his last 17 starts, Rapid Redux also won 19 of his last 20, and 22 of his last 26 outings.

But one of the nicer things about Rapid Redux’s run is that there is no pretense involved. There is no “He’s the best since this,” or “He’s the greatest that.” Rapid Redux is just a remarkable, admirable starter allowance horse who clearly loves the game.

Here are Rapid Redux’s lifetime past performances:

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