OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Rymska has made it to post only three times this year, but she’s made all of those appearances count. On Thursday she displayed a devastating late turn of foot under Irad Ortiz Jr. that carried her from last to first, winning the $150,000 Winter Memories Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over Dancing Breeze at Aqueduct.
Rymska, trained by Chad Brown, added the Winter Memories to earlier victories this year in the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream in February and the Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks at Laurel in September. The layoff in between was precipitated by a tendon issue, according to Sol Kumin, whose Sheep Pond Partners owns Rymska in partnership with Alain Jathiere, Thomas Coleman, and Elayne Herrick.
“She had a little tendon flare-up,” Kumin wrote in a text. “Chad caught it early. We gave her 60 days and it went down and we brought her back. Chad’s done a great job with her.”
Rymska, a French-bred daughter of Le Havre, had the benefit of solid early paces and firm turf in her previous two starts this year. Rymska was last Thursday behind fractions of 24.69 for the quarter and 50.97 for the opening half-mile.
Ortiz, confident he was riding the best filly in the race, waited until around the far turn to make his move and had to go six wide when he asked Rymska to run. She had one horse beat turning for home but sailed past the field, her last rival being Dancing Breeze, whom she overtook inside the sixteenth pole to get the victory.
Dancing Breeze, who under Manny Franco took over the lead from Lucky Long in midstretch, finished second by 1 1/4 lengths over Thais, who nosed out Taperge for fourth as the first-, third- and fourth-place finishers were all trained by Brown. Lucky Long was fifth, followed by Well Humored, Party Boat, Heavenly Score, and Last Promise Kept.
Rymska covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.48 and returned $7.20 as the 5-2 favorite.
Ortiz said he didn’t worry about the slow pace.
“Chad told me to settle her down early and save some ground and tip her out in the stretch and that’s all I did,” Ortiz said. “I just followed instructions. She was there for me. When I asked her, she took off.”
Assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux said the yielding turf course was a bigger concern than the pace “but it didn’t seem to hinder her at all.”
Kumin indicated Rymska would be considered for the Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita, a 1 1/4-mile turf race that is typically run during the final week in December.