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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mpugs24 More than 1 year ago
Hi Mike, Very disappointed we will not see Winter Memories in Breeders Cup. This just might be the most talented filly, or mare for that matter, on grass in the country and overseas. Don't have much doubt that she would have surely avenged last years loss in the juvenile grass race.
Joel johnson More than 1 year ago
Rapid Redux entered again Friday night 9/30 at Mountaineer.
Ida More than 1 year ago
Amen Brother!! I haven't screamed this much since Zenyatta made her classic move to the outside in the BC Classic in '09. Winter Memories was spectacular...what an athlete!! Quite frankly, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was just telling my husband...even if she gets around this wall of huge butts, she'll never make the finish line on time. I didn't even finish my statement when I saw her crossing the finish line to win ... what a show she put on! And Rapid Redux? More power to you handsome boy!!
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
This comment is directed toward Michael (who posted on the 19th @ 8:44PM and on the 20th @7:16PM): What is the problem with Acclamation being listed on Mr. Watchmaker's list for "Older Males"? The "Older Horse" division is not exactly being dominated by anyone (other than Tizway for his MetMile/Whitney scores) other than James Bond's Tizway. I would add that "Flat Out" might very well have made a case for himself... but had to be respectfully downgraded by Mr. Watchmaker for his failure to catch Tizway and Havre De Grace respectively. Hence, and by virtue of his convincing front running/pace inhaling turf scores AND Acclamation's victory in the Pacific Classic; I see no reason why he doesn't deserve the 'honorable mention' afforded by Mr. Watchmaker. It appears to me Mike (poster) that you are biased against horses that perform well on Poly.
BLew More than 1 year ago
Goldikova, Galikova, Sarafina, Black Caviar, all fillies, all very very good at what they do. After watching Winter M do an Arazi last Saturday, I would say she can be put with the 4 I've listed above, with one big exception, I would like to see her ownership put her up against the boys. From Ascot to Longchamp, from Flemington to Sha Tin, from Belmont to Santa Anita, when was the last time has anyone seen a performance like Winter M's last Saturday? If this filly was across the pond, or anywhere else in the world, she would have been running against the boys, and like the 4 above, beating the boys, dear I say.
Michael More than 1 year ago
Mike, thanks for responding to my post. I have a question for you, though. What if we have a dirt horse -- let's say it's Havre de Grace -- and she goes in and wins the Spinster (on synth) in spectacular fashion. Do we now add her name to the leaders in the turf division? Of course not. She'd be a leader in the synthetic division, but there isn't a synthetic division (thankfully). Havre de Grace would remain a leader in the Older Female division, but she wouldn't get ranked in the Turf division until she performs well enough on turf to be included in that division. The same is true of Acclamation (and Gio Ponti). The Older Female (or Male) divisions are for dirt horses. The Turf divisions are for turf horses. Contrary to what you said, we don't have a division for main track horses. When a horse wins on synth, then it should be a feather in their cap, perhaps, but it doesn't qualify them for ranking in the dirt or turf divisions. Zenyatta didn't take home the turf female award with all her wins on synth. She was credited with being a dirt horse who also ran well on synth. The same is true of Blind Luck. And the same should be true of Acclamation -- he's a turf horse who also ran well on synth. It's not fair to dirt horses to allow this crossover into the dirt categories by turf horses without those turf horses proving their dirt prowess. Dirt horses aren't likewise afforded this crossover into the turf divisions via their synth performance(s). We're robbing the most prestigeous divisions in racing when we don't demand dirt performances before being included in the dirt divisions. (MW - Here are my closing comments on this: Like it or not, synthetic track races are main track races. And while I completely agree with your original point concerning Gio Ponti, I am also glad that there is no rule anywhere that says the Older Male division must be restricted to only horses who race on dirt, and I would never support such a qualification.)
M Kite More than 1 year ago
There comes a time in ones life when you think that you have seen all that you will see and then in a blurring blaze something blows by your person and thus has you blathering like a buffoon under a blue moon. Such was the case in that final eight of a mile run by Winter Memories this past weekend in the Garden City. My notes just say : “narrow victory – how? Slim lead in div” Thank goodness for your report as I think you really did capture that run to glory (first G-1 for WM) while not necessarily busily examining every blade of grass. In the end: it was the competition that was blue – so chill.
bigjcc526 More than 1 year ago
Are these comments a joke ? We are talking about a filly who A: has never raced with older, B: never raced vs. males, and C: has won one of the three "tough races she's ran in. Her 93 beyer wasn't exactly jaw-dropping. lets see her beat some accomplished horses before being compared to all-time greats.
Dave More than 1 year ago
I had Winter Memories but calling even money a gift is getting carried away. As Mike said, the field was not a "bunch of crows".
wolfy More than 1 year ago
Love Rapid Redux - just learned about him last week with the NYTimes story about him - horses like him are true heroes.