09/28/2017 3:47PM

Remembering Memories of Silver


Memories of Silver, both a Grade 1 winner and producer, was euthanized due to the infirmities of old age on September 18 at her Darby Dan home. She was 24.

Bred by the Galbreath/Phillips Racing Partnership and raced first by James W. “Wally” Phillips and later Joan and John Phillips, Memories of Silver was a homebred daughter of Silver Hawk - All My Memories, by Little Current.  Hers was a true Darby Dan pedigree, as her sire Silver Hawk was a son of Darby Dan’s immortal sire Roberto; her dam was by the farm's homebred classic winner Little Current; and Memories of Silver’s female line traced to the farm’s foundation mare Golden Trail.

Trained by Jimmy Toner, Memories of Silver won 9 of 19 starts, with 3 seconds and 5 thirds, and she earned nearly $1.5 million.   Among her wins were the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park, the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

As a broodmare, Memories of Silver also excelled, producing a $2.4 million auction yearling named British Blue; the highly popular Grade 1 winner Winter Memories; graded stakes winner La Cloche, who sold at auction as a broodmare for $2.4 million; and two minor stakes winners.

Those are the dry facts surrounding Memories of Silver, and they are remarkable - but they don’t tell the whole story.  Memories of Silver, an unusually beautiful bay mare with brilliant eyes and a trademark blaze, also served as a lifeline to members of one of the country’s most long-standing racing families.

“While they’re all like your children, and you love them differently, Memories of Silver came along at a very important time for our family,” Darby Dan owner John Phillips said in 2007.

Memories of Silver began her career racing in the name of John’s father, James “Wally” Phillips.  But in 1996, during the summer of Memories of Silver’s 3-year-old season, Wally died. 

The stable carried on in the names of Wally’s wife Joan “Jody” Phillips and son John and, three weeks after Wally's burial, Memories of Silver won her first stakes.  The Phillips family was at Saratoga that day to root her home in the Lake George, as they were again when she followed up with a Grade 3 Nijana win.

Above/below:  3-year-old Memories of Silver, with Jerry Bailey up, carries Jody and John Phillips' silks to her first stakes win, the 1996 Lake George at Saratoga.  The family continued using the same colors as had been used by Wally Phillips.

Memories of Silver then headed to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup where, before a hometown crowd just a few miles from Darby Dan, the filly scored a very popular half-length victory.  The time, 1:45.80, set a new stakes record that still stands. The Phillips family, as always, was there to celebrate the bittersweet moment.

(It was a record fifth Queen Elizabeth for the farm, either in the Galbreath or Phillips name. They added a sixth when Time and Motion, trained by Jimmy Toner, won in 2016).

While the entire family loved Memories of Silver, of course, it was Jody who fell most deeply for the determined bay.  She and her family enjoyed two more racing seasons with Memories of Silver; and the competitive, high-spirited mare added the Grade 3 Just a Game, Grade 1 Beverly D., Robert Dick Memorial, Grade 3 Ballston Spa, and the Grade 2 Diana to her resume.  

Memories of Silver then headed back to her Darby Dan home.

Above/below:  Memories of Silver in training at Belmont Park, July 5, 1997.  Above, trainer Jimmy Toner leads the 4-year-old daughter of Silver Hawk - All My Memories, and Emanuel Davy rides.

Above:  Memories of Silver, Jerry Bailey up, winning the 1998 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup at Saratoga.  Witchful Thinking was second.

Above:  Memories of Silver and Jerry Bailey winning the 1998 Grade 2 Diana at Saratoga over B.A. Valentine.  Below, Jody Phillips helps lead her filly into the winner's circle.

In her second career, Memories of Silver also proved remarkable. She produced nine foals, of which six raced and five won.  Four were stakes winners, including British Blue (2000), who won the Tri-State Handicap at Ellis Park, and War Trace (2001), who took the Choice Stakes at Monmouth.  Both later became sires.

La Cloche (2007) won two stakes, including the Grade 3 Athenia, and earned $299,621. And then Winter Memories stole the show.

Jody Phillips loved gray horses, often plunking down a bet on a pretty silver coat, and she dreamed of the day Darby Dan would have a top gray runner.  Her beloved Memories of Silver would make her dream reality, but Jody would not be there to see it.  She died on April 21, 2008, just three days before Memories of Silver produced a gray El Prado filly. 

Above:  Winter Memories

“The filly was born on the day Mother was laid to rest,” John Phillips said.  “We all wanted to name the filly such that the name would…reflect Mother’s favorite color and favorite time of year.  Winter Memories just seemed to fit.  ‘Winter Memories’ is a poem by Henry David Thoreau.”

With her Winter Memories, Memories of Silver had given the family another lifeline – another horse to proudly carry the family’s white-and-green colors, and for them to root for.

Trained by Toner, Winter Memories dazzled in her very first start, and the lovely gray eventually won 8 of 12 starts over three seasons, including 7 graded stakes.  She won the Grade 1 Diana, a race Memories of Silver had won 14 years earlier, and the Grade 1 Garden City. 

Winning Grade 1s isn't easy, but it wasn’t just that she won those races. It was how she won them - in thrilling, come-from-behind fashion that wasn’t for the faint of heart.  With her bright gray coat and exciting style, she became a huge fan favorite.  And, of course, the Phillips family was always there to root her home.

In 2012, Winter Memories did return home, to Darby Dan, for her second career.

Memories of Silver was pensioned in 2016. She lived out her days in comfort with equine friends in the Darby Dan pensioners’ field, still instantly recognizable by her blaze. The beloved mare remained classy and pleasant to work with throughout her older years - although, in watching her bright eyes and actions, it was clear she never forgot who she was.

Memories of Silver will be buried at her lifelong Darby Dan home. And Winter Memories will carry on the family line there, giving the Phillips family hopes for more memories to come.

Above/below:  In 2003, Darby Dan's four living winners of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup were posed at the farm (Graceful Darby was deceased, Time and Motion would win in 2016).  From left: Plenty of Grace (T. Wayne Sweezey), Tribulation (Jennifer Shupe), Memories of Silver (John Phillips) and Love You By Heart (Carol Schmelz).  Although he loved each of the mares, John chose to hold Memories of Silver because of how much she had meant to the Phillips family.  At the time, Memories of Silver was 10.

Above/below:  An in-foal Memories of Silver at age 10, and, below, Memories of Silver at age 19

Above/below:  19-year-old Memories of Silver at Darby Dan in autumn 2012

Above:  Grade 1 winner Winter Memories (8) and her dam Memories of Silver (22) at Darby Dan in December 2015

Above:  Memories of Silver, her daughter Winter Memories, and John Phillips, at Darby Dan in December 2015

Above:  The last time I saw Memories of Silver, December 2015

Above:  Winter Memories' first foal, a 2014 colt by Street Cry.  Named Make Memories, this handsome colt sold as a weanling for $400,000 - and this year won the 2017 Kazakhstan Derby (KAZ-1).

Memories of Silver (February 2, 1993 - September 18, 2017)