09/14/2011 3:27PM

Belmont Park: Winter Memories seeks redemption in Garden City Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Winter Memories will be seeking her first Grade 1 stakes win in Saturday's Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Jimmy Toner doesn’t minimize the importance of Saturday’s $250,000 Garden City Stakes for his 3-year-old filly Winter Memories.

Not only is the Garden City at Belmont Park the first Grade 1 opportunity for Winter Memories, it is her first race back after a disappointing fourth-place finish as the 2-5 favorite in last month’s Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga. Granted, Winter Memories had a terrible trip in the Lake Placid and the ground may have been softer than she prefers, but it still was the worst race of her career.

Winter Memories will meet seven opponents in the Garden City, including Hungry Island and Kathmanblu, the 1-2 finishers of the Lake Placid. The Garden City is run at 1 1/8 miles.

When Toner mapped out the 2011 campaign for Winter Memories, his major goals were the Garden City and the Queen Elizabeth next month at Keeeneland.

“It’s very important,” Toner said Wednesday as he watched Winter Memories gallop on the main track. “I don’t want to be blaming anybody as far as rides or surface or anything, we just want to make sure we’re back on course. That’s why you take it one step at a time. I don’t want to get too far in front of myself. This has to go right for us.”

After reeling off three consecutive graded stakes victories to begin the year – including an impressive last-to-first move in the Lake George – Winter Memories finished fourth in the Lake Placid. She was stuck in between horses for most of the trip, dove to the inside for running room in the stretch, but could not match strides with Hungry Island who rolled to her fourth straight win.

“I don’t want to put too much emphasis on what happened in her last race as opposed to not giving enough credit to” Hungry Island, Toner said. “Too much has been put on my horse and not enough on her. You can’t have a horse that’s won [four] in a row be lucky. That doesn’t happen, she’s a good filly.”

Following the Lake Placid, Toner made a rider switch from Jose Lezcano to Javier Castellano, who has breezed the filly twice. Winter Memories will break from post 4 and carry high weight of 123 pounds.

Hungry Island, who won three races at Belmont as part of her four-race winning streak, will break from post 3 under Alex Solis.

More Than Real, who beat Winter Memories in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, comes off a third-place finish to Winter Memories in the Lake George. She was purposely kept out of the Lake Placid to point for this. She breaks from the rail under Corey Nakatani.

Salary Drive, winner of the Dauphin Miss at Penn National, Pinch Pie, who is 3 for 4 on turf, Kathamnblu, Arch Support, and the European shipper Theyskens’ Theory round out the field.

Brock wins first race in 10 years

When jockey Mary Brock guided Salsa Mambo ($35.20) to a two-length victory in Wednesday’s fourth race, it was her first victory in the saddle since Dec. 19, 2001, at Laurel Park.

It was Brock’s 25th career victory from 190 mounts. She’s ridden sporadically since 1995. Since 2003, Brock rode only four horses until this year. She picked out Salsa Mambo at auction for Jake Haddad, who is the father of the couple’s 7-year-old son Ari as well as a member of the team that produces the Ragozin sheets.

Brock had ridden Salsa Mambo in the filly’s first three starts, which included a runner-up finish to Born Bullish here in June. Salsa Mambo finished fifth in a dirt race at Saratoga and ninth in a turf race at Saratoga on Sept. 4.

“I thought she was going to do this at Saratoga, she was training so well,” Brock, 37, said. “I’m happy with this spot though.”

Brock works as an exercise rider for Gary Contessa, the trainer of Salsa Mambo She also is taking classes to be a court reporter. But it is clear that her passion is racing.

“I want to be a degenerate and everything I make off of [riding] and off of court reporting I want to buy more horses,” Brock said. “I don’t know how long I’ll actually be able to ride races, but I think I can gallop in the morning for a long time.”

The last time Brock won a race in New York was Aug. 9, 2001, at Saratoga, when she guided Twilights Prayer to a front-running victory. Twilights Prayer was supposed to be a rabbit that day for Whiteglovesandlace, ridden by Jerry Bailey.

“I was coupled with Jerry Bailey, I was on a speed horse, he was on a closer,” Brock said. “In the paddock, [Contessa] is telling me ‘When you’re going down the stretch, if you hear Bailey on the rail open it up for him.’ I’m thinking ‘yeah, whatever.’ I knew my horse was good, I was galloping both of them. I went wire to wire. That was my last good story, this is my next.”

Garden City Stakes





ML Odds


More Than Real

T. Pletcher

C. Nakatani



Salary Drive

E. Plesa, Jr.

J. Bravo



Hungry Island

C. McGaughey III

A. Solis



Winter Memories

J. Toner

J. Castellano



Arch Support

G. Contessa

D. Cohen




K. McPeek

J. Lezcano



Theyskens' Theory

B. Meehan

G. Gomez



Pinch Pie

A. Dutrow

J. Rose



Draw It

T. Albertrani