10/25/2010 11:27AM

Winter Memories turns in a blazing turf work for Breeders' Cup

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Barbara D. Livingston
Winter Memories is a leading contender for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Jimmy Toner glanced at his stopwatch after Winter Memories had concluded a five-furlong workout over Belmont Park’s inner turf course Monday morning and was shocked at what it read: 58.50 seconds. Admitting that he can be a little quick on the trigger finger, Toner figured to hear a slower time when he called the official track clockers.

He was right. Kind of. Officially, Winter Memories went five furlongs in 58.57 seconds in a work that looked every bit as impressive visually as the time would indicate, and which only confirmed her status as the horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

With regular rider Jose Lezcano in the irons, Winter Memories was just galloping into her breeze and went off in a relatively easy 12.47 seconds, while in the three-path. On this day, there were no traffic cones on the course to force the horses to work well off the hedge.

Without Lezcano doing much with his hands, Winter Memories threw in a middle quarter of 23.71 seconds for a three-furlong time of 36.18 seconds. Turning for home, Winter Memories lengthened her stride, reaching out beautifully through a final quarter in 22.39 seconds. Lezcano then took her in hand, as there was no need for a strong gallop out.

"She went off nice and comfortable and Lezcano said she started to slow down along the backside so he smooched to her and she took off," Toner said. "She got a good blow out of it; I told him to go a minute."

On a gorgeous, sunny fall morning, the work was done over an inner turf course that officially was called firm, but probably on the good side of firm.

Toner said he was grateful to the New York Racing Association for allowing him to work on Monday - turf works are usually done on Sunday - because it keeps the filly on her regular schedule.

"We’ve been on a weekly schedule with her and now that we did this today, I don’t have to worry about doing it again," said Toner, who will ship Winter Memories to Louisville on Sunday. "This is her work for the race."

Toner said the work was reminiscent of a fast breeze put in by Memories of Silver - the multiple Grade 1-winning mare he trained and mother of Winter Memories - in 1996 three days prior to her winning the then-ungraded Lake George Stakes by three lengths at Saratoga.

Winter Memories will likely go off favored in the Juvenile Fillies Turf off her victory in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 3 and a maiden win at Saratoga on Sept. 3.