04/21/2011 5:11PM

Keeneland: Winter Memories comes back a winner in Appalachian

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Winter Memories (left) gets up to win the Appalachian in her 3-year-old debut.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Winter Memories proved good enough off the winter break when wearing down longshot Dos Lunas to prevail as an odds-on favorite Thursday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland.

With Jose Lezcano riding for trainer Jimmy Toner, Winter Memories raced in mid-pack for much of the way before angling out and getting up by a neck. Dos Lunas, a 42-1 shot who contested all the pace under Jon Court, finished another 2 1/2 lengths before Parting Words in a field of 10 3-year-old fillies.

Winter Memories returned $3.80 in making her first start since running second as a big favorite last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The gray daughter of El Prado finished the one-mile distance in 1:37.27 over a firm turf.

“We’re very happy with the way she came back,” said Toner. “We gave her the time, let her develop, put some weight on her. This is a great start to the year for her.”

Winter Memories is out of the standout mare Memories of Silver, a multiple Grade 1 winner whose female-side lineage traces back to the glory days of the Darby Dan Farm of the late John Galbreath.

“This is the fifth generation of the family,” said John Phillips, who heads the Phillips Racing Partnership that bred and owns Winter Memories.

Toner, based in New York, said the Grade 1 Sands Point at Belmont Park is likely next for Winter Memories. “The main objective is to be back here in the fall,” he said, referring to the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October. Memories of Silver still holds the Keeneland turf-course record for 1 1/8 miles from her win in the 1996 QE II.

Winter Memories now has won 3 of 4 career starts. She led $2 mutuels of $138.80 for the exacta (4-2); $902.60 for the trifecta (4-2-11); and $4,235.40 for the superfecta (4-2-11-1).

Four fillies were scratched from the original oversubscribed field of 14.

An ontrack crowd of 11,576 was on hand amid cool and sunny weather.