05/30/2011 6:40PM

Belmont Park: Winter Memories adapts to win Sands Point

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Winter Memories, with Jose Lezcano riding, wins the Sands Point.

ELMONT, N.Y. - No pace proved no problem for odds-on favorite Winter Memories, who raced closer to the front than is her custom yet still was still able to deliver the same devastating stretch to kick to win Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point Stakes by three lengths at Belmont Park. Celestial Kitten, the longest shot on the board at 19-1, rallied to get second by three-quarters of a length over Parting Woods. She was followed in the order of finish by Naples Bay, Mystical Star and Arch Support.

Winter Memories, a daughter of El Prado out of the Grade 1 winning mare Memories of Silver, won for the fourth time from five career starts for the Phillips Racing Partnership. Her only loss came in last November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf when she finished second to More Than Real.

During her 2-year-old season, Winter Memories did her best running from well off the pace. Monday, however, in a paceless affair - the early fractions were 26.11 seconds and 51.41 - jockey Jose Lezcano had Winter Memories within a length of the lead and three wide early on.

"This is the kind of filly you can do whatever you want," Lezcano said. "You can put her close, you can take her back. But, today I figured there were six horses in the race and no pace I had to put her in the race."

Winter Memories came three wide outside of Arch Support and Mystical Star around the far turn and Lezcano sat on her before shaking the reins at her above the eighth pole. Winter Memories quickly opened up a sizeable advantage before switching to her left lead at the sixteenth pole. Still, she was a handy winner, covering the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.61. She returned $3.20 as the 3-5 favorite.

"I had to go very close to the pace, and when I asked her she gave me the same kick she gives me all the time," Lezcano said.

While concerned going into the race about the lack of pace, trainer Jimmy Toner was confident his filly could adapt because of how much she matured from her 2-year-old season.

"Early on we were able to get her back more so because she didn't know what she was doing," Toner said. "But now that she's getting racier, she wants to be there, she wants to be a little more forward.

Toner said his primary objectives with Winter Memories are the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont and the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth at Keeneland in the fall. He would most likely wait until Saratoga to run Winter Memories in races like the Lake George on July 27 and/or Lake Placid on Aug. 21.