10/16/2011 11:10AM

Winter Memories Is Not A Machine; Rapid Redux, On The Other Hand ...

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Even after all these years, it never ceases to amaze how a horse can look so special on a number of occasions, and then suddenly pop up with an inexplicably mediocre performance, as Winter Memories did in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. It was hard to believe that the Winter Memories seen Saturday - the one who floundered through the stretch run with no late punch whatsoever after a wide, but clean trip - was the same one who destroyed her field despite an awful trip in the Lake George at Saratoga in July, or the one who produced one of the most impressive late kicks seen in recent years to win the Garden City last month at Belmont.

That, however, is what we got. The empty performance from Winter Memories, a filly who seemed on the cusp of being a real star, was, for me, just as big a story after the Q. E. II as was the victory by Together. And Together’s score was a good story because it had two interesting angles: For one, she was running back in only a week after finishing second against older grass females in Keeneland’s First Lady Stakes. When was the last time you saw a horse run in two Grade 1 races a week apart, AND do as well as Together did in them? The other interesting component to this story is Together provided her Ireland-based trainer Aidan O’Brien with his fifth U.S. Grade 1 victory this year. Even though one horse, Cape Blanco, accounted for three of those Grade 1’s, that’s still an incredible number when you consider that through Saturday, O’Brien had only 10 U.S. starts this year.

Barring anything untoward surfacing in the next couple of days, Jimmy Toner, the trainer of Winter Memories, probably hit on the most likely explanation for his filly’s loss Saturday immediately after the race. “I was telling Javier,” Toner told the Keeneland press staff, referring to Javier Castellano, Winter Memories’s jockey, “when they put in an exceptional run like she did last out, it sometimes takes more out of them than you realize. She was not as keen as she was before.”

In other words, not even Winter Memories is a machine, which makes what Rapid Redux is doing all the more impressive. It doesn’t matter that Rapid Redux is currently operating at the $5,000 starter allowance level, it is still a noteworthy achievement that this gelding was able to make it 18 straight victories with a score at Charles Town Friday night.

Now, it was a tiny bit disconcerting that Rapid Redux’s connections noted that their charge covered the nine furlongs Friday night in faster time than it took Fonda Ronda Won to win the $50,000 HBPA Governor’s Cup earlier on the card - 1:51.94 to 1:52.71 - inferring that Rapid Redux might have been able to win that stronger race. The fact is, Rapid Redux benefitted from a couple of late scratches, and he was able to lead through a leisurely pace, setting fractions of 48.81 and 1:14.32. If Rapid Redux had to contest the quicker fractions of the Governor’s Cup (48.46 and 1:13.21), he certainly wouldn’t have been able to finish quite as strongly. In any case, Rapid Redux is now only one win shy of equaling the 19 race win streaks held by Zenyatta and Peppers Pride.

Here are Rapid Redux’s career past performances. And what the heck, I threw in Zenyatta and Peppers Pride’s pps, too:

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pete siipola More than 1 year ago
i agree with the RR for HOY post as the Z fans claimed that that many wins without a loss qualifies one for such an award----Z certainly did not take on a brutal campaign like RR has and was beaten in a race that year----so lets pony up on getting RR the credit deserved for such an accomplishment!!!
Gary Max More than 1 year ago
I could not agree more with you Jared, I too had MM on top and really did not cater for the Euro wheelling back so soon after that long trip across the pond and that bang up second place a week earlier. Looking forward to the turf racing in Florida with these fillies MM,WM,SS and others.
richard More than 1 year ago
Ricardo...Wondered if you knew if Dominguez was handed any days for this clearly careless riding? Bet not..
Traci More than 1 year ago
I'd like to start a campaign for Rapid Redux to be nominated for Horse of the Year. He's started more often than many of the classier horses and has more wins. He's perfect in 2011 and looks likely to tie the record. I'm sure it won't happen. Probably people will scoff at my idea. I don't care. I like the hard knockers as much (sometimes more) than the fancy horses. Here's hoping Rapid Redux has a couple of more wins, then retires healthy to a nice farm where his fans can visit and give him the carrots he's earned!
Lady Slew More than 1 year ago
I'm not scoffing at your idea. But a better idea would be to get him in the Hall of Fame. He won't be eligible until 5 years after he stops racing though, and who knows how long from now that could be.
steve tall More than 1 year ago
IMO, it tells us is that she was not beating much in the Garden City. She ran down Theyskens Theory in there, who was pretty much crushed in the First Lady, which I guess should have told us that the First Lady was a much tougher race than the Garden City, right? Well Together finished second in the First Lady.
Jared More than 1 year ago
Jimmy Toner is an excellent grass trainer. It's just that Winter Memories has been beating up on a softer group, & she's finally hit a level of competition where she's up against it. If you believe in Beyer figs, which I generally do, they clearly show that she's just not fast enough to dominate at G-1 level. I backed Marketing Mix in the race, who ran 2nd to Together. I still really don't think much of Together, but it's the classic reality check you often see in the Fall when more Europeans ship over here, and a 3rd rate Euro horse beats up on our hyped grass horses. It happens very often.
Ida More than 1 year ago
I was in shock when Winter Memories looked liked she'd rather be anywhere but at the race track. I adore this girl and it just hurt to see her so uninterested. But on the other hand hey!! we all have bad days. Let's see how she does on her next race. We'll know then whether we should just put a long line across this performance or if we have a problem. As to Rapid Redux, doesn't matter when he races, or against who he races, this boy is for real. When you win this much, it's because of YOU not because of the competition. I remember all the put downs against Pepper's Pride when she was going through her 19-race winning streak because she only raced in good weather and in New Mexico. So what!!!! It's the Horse. More power to this great athlete!!!
Ivan More than 1 year ago
I have never been a big fan of Winter Memories. Her speed figures have always been extremely pedestrian, and she showed her true colors against Together, which is not more than an European third stringer (which demonstrates how iffy is the quality of the grass horses in the US). Maybe she does not like Kentucky, or that she likes New York a lot. And James Toner gave a pretty lame excuse for her poor performance. She had four weeks to recover from that effort, and Together, one week after placing against older fillies, gave them the slip, crushing WM by about 5 or 6 lengths. Sorry, not convinced at all.
shawn More than 1 year ago
wintermomeries is a wonderful throughbred,but if you leave your mount 12 lengths off the lead horse,then circle 4 wide going into the last turn you better be on zenyetta...anyway gio ponti gave the perscipition for success on keenland's turf in the shadwell,..who has a better turn of foot than him.....
pittsburgh jd More than 1 year ago
Anyone think the payoffs (exacta and trifecta) were a little lite in the QE 2? 5-1 (3rd choice i believe) over 10-1 in a 8 horse field when you throw the top 2 choices out you should get paid. I liked Marketing Mix and keyed her in top 2 spots, thought i shoulda been rewared with a better payoff. Anyone notice those lite ex,tri? thx