07/30/2012 3:38PM

Saratoga: Winter Memories sets sights on Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf

Tom Keyser
Winter Memories, winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Diana, will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Winter Memories turned in the best race of her career to capture the Grade 1 Diana here Saturday. It also was a performance that may have helped trainer James Toner shape the course he’ll take with his star filly the remainder of the year.

Winter Memories rallied from off the pace and overcame a little lapse in focus near midstretch to register a 1 1/2-length decision over the European invader Dream Peace in the 1 1/8-mile Diana. Winter Memories received a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, the first time she’s cracked triple digits in her 12-race career.

Toner said he had “no idea” what might be next for Winter Memories immediately after the Diana. But by Monday, Toner had mapped out some tentative plans, with her major goal now being the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

“Originally, when we started out, I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t going to be the Mile for her rather than the Filly and Mare Turf,” Toner said. “But after the Just a Game, it took the edge off me as far as the Mile was concerned. And after what she did here Saturday, I’m even more inclined to try the Filly and Mare Turf. She’ll probably have one race prior to that, with the Flower Bowl being the most logical option. I won’t do the Ballston Spa. Been there, done that. I tried to run her back in four weeks here last summer, and it just didn’t work out.”

Toner also said Winter Memories’s brief tail-swishing, lead-changing episode at midstretch of the Diana was due to her resentment for being hit with the stick.

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“She did that last time at Belmont, too,” Toner said. “She’d never been hit before her last race – that was the first time – and she didn’t like it. I reminded Javier of that, but when she made the lead on Saturday she got to looking around, so he popped her once to get her back on her business and she resented it again. But then he went to hand-riding her, and she was fine.”

Chad Brown said Zagora, who finished third in defense of her title in the Diana, could return in the Ballston Spa.

“I thought Ramon [Dominguez] gave Zagora a beautiful trip, but she kind of lost her punch there the last eighth,” Brown said. “I’m a little disappointed. I guess maybe the 10-week layoff got to her a little more than I thought it would. I don’t know if we were going to win anyway. She didn’t get to her best number yesterday, and I think the layoff contributed to that. I might bring her back in the Ballston Spa. I think she needed the race and I wouldn’t be afraid to bring her back in four weeks.”

Brown also has assumed the training duties of Dream Peace following her second-place finish in the Diana.

“I’ll talk to the owners of Dream Peace about what to do next, with the two most logical spots being either the Canadian at Woodbine or to train her up to the Flower Bowl,” Brown said. “Both fillies are also eligible for the Beverly D., and there’s a slim chance one of them could come back in that race, although it’s doubtful.”

Nobody was more disappointed in the outcome of the Diana than trainer Shug McGaughey after his Hungry Island finished a non-threatening fifth under John Velazquez, nearly six lengths behind Winter Memories.

“Very disappointing,” McGaughey said. “She was tracking and Johnny said when he asked her, there was just no punch. I can’t make any excuse. That’s the first time she hasn’t run well. I don’t know why. I hope we can pick up the pieces, figure it out, and run her back in the Ballston Spa.”