The feature at Keeneland today is the Grade 3 Appalachian for 3 year old fillies going a mile on turf.
There’s a full field of 12 with 2 AE’s at this time. And what nice field it is. It’s always exciting to see promising two year olds, hopefully, get even better at 3.
Winter Memories is the headliner. Her 3 starts last year were mesmerizing and though she finished second in the Breeder’s Cup Fillies Turf, she marked herself as an exciting prospect.
According to her trainer Jimmy Toner, who knows the family well...
"The filly has done everything right since the Breeders' Cup," Toner said. "We took her down to Palm Meadows and turned her out in the round pen for about a month, gave her time to fill out, unwind, and develop. She's been on a steady program since January, and knock on wood, she's been training very good. I believe she's put on some weight and matured the way you'd like to see. The main thing Thursday is to just get her started. We've got a plan for her the rest of the year, but let's get through this and let everything else take care of itself."
Winter Memories is by El Prado out of the Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver who won the 1996 Grade 1 QE Challenge Cup at Keeneland and who amassed lifetime earnings of over 1.4 million.
Will the filly need a race?
Smart Sting is another in here who looks to have a world of talent. Undefeated in her two lifetime starts, she is by Smart Strike out of Distaff Turf Champion, Perfect Sting. Her 2011 campaign started smartly with an allowance win at Gulfstream and she had worked steadily since. She already has had that race to shake the dust off, so now the question is …
Can she step up to Stakes Company?
Ruthenia is another undefeated filly in here that is making her first start of the year. Out of Ruthian, she is a full sister to Rutherienne, a multiple Grade 1 winner on grass with earnings of 1.3 million and some of that earned at Keeneland. She has been at Payson Park all winter, and should be fit.
Is she stakes quality and can she overcome the outside post?
Parting Words deserves a look in here. She had lots of trouble in her last race, her first against Stakes Company. With a clean trip, she could be tough. Though Garcia has opted to ride Ruthenia, could there be a better replacement than JLep?
New Normal cannot be discounted either. A Courtland Farm homebred, she is already a graded stakeswinner who loves to be on the lead. She is training up a storm and could be long gone in the lane.
Could Diva Ash surprise? This Tapit filly is progressing nicely and might have an outside chance.
Almost every horse has a little bit of a “look” in this race.This will be an exciting race to watch and wager on and a great way to start another great weekend of stakes action from Keeneland.