08/19/2011 1:58PM

Saratoga: Winter Memories looms large in Lake Placid

Barbara D. Livingston
Winter Memories will be an odds-on choice to sweep Saratoga's turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies in Sunday's Lake Placid.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Perhaps relishing the rare role of underdog in a graded stakes at Saratoga, trainer Todd Pletcher offered this assessment of Sunday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid Stakes in which he will send out Bellamy Star against heavy favorite Winter Memories.

“I don’t think we have any chance in the world to beat Winter Memories, I mean how could you?’’ said Pletcher, whose filly finished second to Winter Memories in last month’s Lake George Stakes here. “We’ll try again and see what happens; sometimes you get lucky and maybe get loose on the lead. Essentially, if Winter Memories runs the same race she’s been running, we’re all running for second.’’

“It’s a compliment, but it does put more pressure on you,’’ Jimmy Toner, the trainer of Winter Memories, said about Pletcher’s statement.

In reality, Pletcher’s assessment is correct. If Winter Memories is able repeat the powerful last-to-first move that saw her win the Lake George by 4 1/2 emphatic lengths, then she will become the third filly to win both graded turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga. The first to do it was Memories of Silver, the mother of Winter Memories. Both are owned and bred by the Phillips family and trained by Toner.

The racing office has faith in Winter Memories. It carded the Lake Placid as the fourth, in part to keep it out of the pick six.

Winter Memories has won 5 of 6 starts, her only loss coming to More Than Real in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall. This year, she has won the Appalachian at Keeneland, the Sands Point at Belmont, and the Lake George.

This will be her first start at 1 1/8 miles, but Toner has no reason to believe she won’t gobble up the additional ground.

“If anything her last race gave us encouragement as far as okay, she will rate, she’ll relax, she’ll be fine, and she’ll be able to finish up good,’’ Toner said. “When you’re trying to develop a filly like this there’s always another step to take, there’s always something else you’re trying to find out.’’

Toner acknowledges the Lake Placid is no easy spot especially with the presence of Hungry Island and Dynamic Holiday in the field.

Hungry Island was beaten 4 1/2 lengths by Winter Memories when both debuted here last Sept. 3. This year, Hungry Island has won 3 of 4 races, including the Recording Stakes at Belmont by three lengths over next-out stakes winner My Redbyrd.

“Winter Memories is going to be odds-on, we’re doing good, we just have to wait and see if we’re good enough,’’ trainer Shug McGaughey said. “She trained good here, she’s fresh. I would think she’d give a good account of herself.’’

Dynamic Holiday began the year with three consecutive stakes victories at different tracks in Florida. After a break, she returned in the Virginia Oaks, where she finished fifth as the 5-2 favorite.

“I though it wasn’t really a true race,’’ said Graham Motion, the trainer of Dynamic Holiday. “She was quite aggressive. I think we all got caught up a little bit in the mindset that you couldn’t be too far off the pace that day because everyone was winning very close. I’d like to see her return to her old ways of relaxing and coming with a run, which I think is her style.’’

Wyomia, who may have the speed to entertain Bellamy Star up front, Kathmanblu, and Trac n Jam complete the field.