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Winter Memories Proves Her Class in Diana

winter memories
Winter Memories proved her class once more on Saturday with a 1 ½-length victory in the $600,000 Diana (G1) at Saratoga.

Seeking her seventh graded stakes score and second at Saratoga, Winter Memories commenced her rally midway on the final bend, shot to the front with a furlong to travel and maintained a safe lead while drifting outward. Runner-up Dream Peace, making her first North American start since a third in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor in October, was 3 ¼ lengths clear of the third-place finisher, 2011 Diana winner Zagora.

In her two previous 2012 starts, Winter Memories won Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Beaugay by 2 ¼ lengths on May 5 and was second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by front-running Tapitsfly, in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 9, Belmont Stakes Day.

“I was concerned a little bit because it was a small field,” said jockey Javier Castellano, who piloted Zagora in last year’s Diana. “I would have liked to cover her up a little bit at the beginning of the race. There wasn’t much speed in the race. That was my concern. It worked out great. It was amazing. She was able to cover up. She was able to finish so well today. Tapitsfly took advantage the last time [in the Just a Game]. There was not much speed in that race and it was a short distance. Today was my opportunity. My filly is a 1 1/8-mile or a 1 ¼-mile horse. She likes the two turns. She likes to cover up and she gave me that kick.”

Winter Memories, the 8-5 favorite, paid $5.50 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.50 over an inner turf course labeled “good.”

“There was no pace. I think we were closer due to the way the race was shaping up,” said winning trainer Jimmy Toner. “I just left it in Javier’s hands and said, ‘Just do what you want to do, but I wouldn’t let [Tapitsfly] get too far away from us today.’”

Overall, the Phillips Racing Partnership homebred is 8-2-0 in 12 starts. The $360,000 winner’s share of the Diana purse pushed her earnings into seven figures at $1,268,100.

By winning the Diana, Winter Memories emulated her dam, Memories of Silver, who captured the 1998 Diana as a 5-year-old for Toner and the Phillips family of Darby Dan Farm. Memories of Silver also took the 1996 Lake George.

–NYRA Press contributed to this report.

Winter Memories/NYRA photo