10/12/2011 3:24PM

Keeneland: Winter Memories closes out campaign in QE II Challenge Cup

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Winter Memories will make her final start of the season in the Queen Elizabeth II Challebnge Cup, then be given a rest before her 2012 campaign.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Belmont Park race-caller Tom Durkin excitedly called Winter Memories “a gray bullet” and “a gray blur” as the standout filly passed all seven of her opponents in the final furlong to win her most recent start, the Grade 1 Garden City.

Trainer Jimmy Toner is hoping Keeneland caller Kurt Becker has something similar to say Saturday about Winter Memories when she closes out her 2011 season. Winter Memories is the likely favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old turf fillies entered in the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, the last of six Grade 1 races at the fall meet.

“What a thrill that was,” said Toner, who trains homebred Winter Memories for the Phillips Racing Partnership. “You don’t see that kind of move often.”

Winter Memories, with Javier Castellano back to ride, will start from post 3 in the 1 1/8-mile QE II. She has won 6 of 8 career starts and finished second as the heavy favorite in one other notable race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall. Toner said he will not run her back in the Breeders’ Cup this year but does intend to race her next year.

From the rail, this is the entire field for the 28th QE II: Star Billing, Together, Winter Memories, Marketing Mix, Nereid, More Than Real, Kathmanblu, and Summer Soiree.

The QE II, the ninth of 10 Saturday races, will be televised live on a one-hour broadcast (5-6 p.m. Eastern) on NBC Sports, along with the $125,000 Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes (race 8), a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds attempting to make the new Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint.