Salimah and Jose Ortiz capture the Winter Memories (Joe Labozzetta)
By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Stephanie Seymour Brant’s Salimah drew clear to a three-length score in her stakes debut Sunday’s $135,000 Winter Memories, a 1 1/16 mile outer turf test for sophomore fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Irish-bred Salimah was one of three entrants for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, who also sent out third-place Veronica Greene and sixth-place Eminent Victor, who went to post the lukewarm 5-2 favorite.
Salimah broke alertly from post 2 under Jose Ortiz and settled in third position to the inside of the Irad Ortiz, Jr.-piloted Veronica Greene as Jorge Vargas, Jr. hustled Tasweya to the lead through splits of 24.35 seconds and 49.12 over the yielding going.
Tasweya opened up a four-length advantage down the backstretch with Myriskyaffair tracking in second and Salimah continuing to save ground in third to the inside of her stablemate. Veronica Green advanced into the final turn with Eminent Victor following that move as Tasweya began to tire.
A patient Ortiz waited until late in the turn to angle his charge out a path and take aim to the outside of Veronica Greene, pulling clear under right-handed encouragement to score in a final time of 1:44.69. The Joel Rosario-piloted Candy Light arrived with a late run to complete the exacta by a nose over Veronica Greene with Spirit And Glory, Myriskyaffair, Eminent Victor, Parnac, She’s a Mia and Tasweya rounding out the order of finish. Hail To along with main-track only entrants Tizzy in the Sky and Missy Greer were scratched.
Ortiz, who was aboard Salimah for the first time in the afternoon, said he felt comfortable throughout.
“Today, she switched off beautifully behind horses on the backside,” Ortiz said. “From there, we had a great trip every step of the way. We were traveling well and I felt like a winner every step of the way.”
Ortiz said he wasn’t concerned about the modest fractions.
“Here at Aqueduct, there are tight turns so the pace is going to be slower a lot of the time. But I think [the time of the race] doesn’t matter as much,” Ortiz said. “There were some quality fillies in that race. They could go two seconds faster next time on a faster track. The turns are pretty tight, so horses have a tendency to slow down a little bit.”
Salimah, an El Kabeir grey out of the stakes-winning Dark Angel mare Promised Money, was unraced as a juvenile and has now won 3-of-4 career starts. She entered from a rallying one-length score last out in a 1 1/16-mile allowance on September 30 at Belmont at the Big A.
The victory provided Brown a third Winter Memories score following past success with Rymska  and Duopoly .
Candy Light, a multiple stakes-placed daughter of Candy Ride, entered from a rallying allowance score over older company in October at Keeneland for trainer Graham Motion.
“She came running,” said Rosario of Candy Light’s closing effort. “Being inside there, she made that move but I was just second-best today. I think she was fine today [with the distance]. With the ground, she took a little time today to get going, but she came with her run. Maybe a mile and an eighth would help her a little bit.
“She kept trying,” he added. “I didn’t know if we were going to get second, but she kept moving and trying hard. I’m glad we were a good second today.”
Bred in Ireland by Yeomanstown Stud, Salimah banked $74,250 in victory. She returned $8.70 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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