07/25/2011 1:41PM

Saratoga: Winter Memories, More Than Real rematch in Lake George Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Winter Memories will get a rematch with More Than Real in Wednesday's Lake George Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Jimmy Toner made no excuses after More Than Real handed Winter Memories her only defeat in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Toner is hoping he won’t need any after the pair meet for the first time as 3-year-olds Wednesday at Saratoga in the $150,000 Lake George Stakes.

The Grade 2 Lake George drew only six 3-year-old fillies, assuming the race goes as scheduled on the grass, and two-thirds of the field is trained by Toner and Todd Pletcher. Along with Winter Memories, Toner also will send out Sunlight Sonata in the 1 1/16-mile Lake George, while Pletcher counters with More Than Real and his recently acquired Bellamy Star. The remainder of the field includes Calmafterthestorm and Little Miss Holly. Marion Ravenwood is entered for the main track only.

In the Juvenile Fillies Turf, More Than Real got the jump on favored Winter Memories, who was forced to steady briefly in traffic, to open up a couple of lengths nearing the eighth pole. She then was able to maintain that advantage through the final furlong to post a two-length victory.

It was the first and only loss to date for Winter Memories, a regally bred daughter of El Prado and Memories of Silver. Winter Memories captured her two starts at 2 prior to the Breeders’ Cup and both her outings to open her 3-year-old campaign.

More Than Real “won, we were second, and there were no excuses in the Breeders’ Cup,” Toner said after the race and reiterated again Monday. “She was just better than we were that day.”

Winter Memories enters the Lake George off popular victories in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Appalachian and Belmont’s Grade 2 Sands Point. She has been idle since the Sands Point on May 30.

“It’s a little longer between races than I’d normally like, but the other options were to go to Virginia or California, and I preferred to wait the extra week and run here instead of shipping,” Toner said.

Toner said he expects a realistic pace in the Lake George, with Sunlight Sonata in the lineup. The lightly raced filly finished second behind Bellamy Star after setting the pace in the seven-furlong Xtra Heat Stakes on June 5.

“Sunlight Sonata is a good filly in her own right,” Toner said. “Maybe she goes out there, everybody takes back, and who knows what could happen.”

More Than Real makes just her second start since the Breeders’ Cup on Wednesday, having travelled to Ascot for her 3-year-old debut, where she finished far back in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes.

“It’s a tough enough challenge to go over there and then it rained and we caught a bog of a course,” Pletcher said. “We were hoping she might handle it, but it didn’t work out and as a result we’re going up against Winter Memories under less than ideal circumstances since we’ll be giving up a bit of seasoning, considering she’s had two races this year and our filly really did not run much in her last.”

Bellamy Star was purchased privately by owner Paul Pompa Jr. and turned over to Pletcher following her victory over Sunlight Sonata in the Xtra Heat.

“All her works have been good on turf and dirt since we got her,” Pletcher said. “She’ll be forwardly placed, and we’ll see what happens.”