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The following article first appeared earlier this week in Paulick Report.

Before Galileo and before Montjeu, who are both classic winners and leading sires of classic winners, the sentiment of European breeders was drifting in the direction of calling Sadler’s Wells a disappointment as a sire of stallions. Such a judgment would have seemed harsh to American breeders, however, because we had the first son of Sadler’s Wells who was proving consistent and widely successful: El Prado.

Like his sire, El Prado was good from the beginning, and again like Sadler’s Wells, the gray stallion left some of his best work for late in his stallion career. Although he died in 2009 at age 20, El Prado has not one but two good sons at stud in Medaglia d’Oro and Kitten’s Joy, as well as several young sires with promise coming along, and El Prado has been having a solid year with his racing stock, as well, with eight stakes winners, five graded.

Just the weekend before last, the stallion’s son Grassy won the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont, and on Saturday, his daughter Winter Memories first showed the courage to change direction late and then a powerful turn of foot to stride past a wall of horses for a victory in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont.

Breeder John Phillips, who owns the filly with his three sisters as Phillips Racing Partnership, said the filly’s finish was remarkably like the racing style of her mother, Memories of Silver, a winner twice at the G1 level during her illustrious racing career.

Phillips said that although “her running style is very similar to her mother’s, showing a tremendous ability to accelerate,” Winter Memories has some differences in physical makeup.

“Memories of Silver is a moderate-sized mare,” said Phillips, “standing 16 hands, with good bone, though not coarse, is more feminine than masculine, very correct, and beautifully balanced.”

In moderate contrast, “Winter Memories is somewhat taller and also has a little more scope,” Phillips said. “Winter Memories has a lot of similarities to her dam but is larger and more powerfully built.”

Winter Memories also is the best of her dam’s offspring to date. From eight foals of racing age (two colts and six fillies), the mare has three stakes winners and the graded stakes-placed La Cloche (by Ghostzapper).

The mare’s first two foals were colts by Storm Cat. Of these, Phillips noted that “British Blue was quite handsome. A little on the small side but striking.” The colt sold as a yearling for $2.4 million, and both British Blue and his year-younger full brother won stakes.

Despite that level of success, Phillips continued looking for the right mate for his outstanding daughter of Silver Hawk. He said, “It is a propensity of the mare that she can produce horses on the smallish side. Even with Aldebaran, who was not a small horse, the result was a filly who was too small. Even the Storm Cats – who are known for being strong, masculine horses – were neither really large nor exceptionally powerful.”

So the breeder kept searching for the match that would provide all the factors to help the mare reproduce her best qualities. Phillips said, “From a phenotype perspective, a horse with larger size, bigger bone, more scope seems better for her. Fundamentally, I love Roberto [the sire of Silver Hawk], where you have the opportunity to mix with Northern Dancer. It has been used many times with success. We used this cross several times with Memories of Silver, including twice to El Prado. The first time we got a small, very attractive chestnut who ended up placing in races, but still retired a maiden. But I liked the cross so much that we went right back. And at least one time it worked.”

The second time, the match produced Winter Memories, now a G1 winner.

The stable star is tentatively aiming for the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland (a race won by Memories of Silver in 1996), then possibly a break till racing next year. Phillips said, “She tolerates racing very well because she is easy to manage outside the race itself. She is very serious and competitive when she’s on the track, but she is very easy-going and mentally balanced the rest of the time. She’s a star.”

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