ELMONT, N.Y. -- Though Hungry Island was a convincing winner of last month's Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga, most of the focus coming out of the race was about the disappointing performance of odds-on favorite Winter Memories.
Saturday, Hungry Island will be seeking some respect -- as well as her fifth consecutive victory -- while Winter Memories will be in search of redemption when the two meet again in the Grade 1, $250,000 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park.
Hungry Island and Winter Memories are two of eight 3-year-old fillies scheduled to contest the Garden City at 1 1/8 miles over the inner turf course. Other notable entrants include More Than Real, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner; Kathmanblu, a two-time stakes winner on turf who finished third behind More Than Real and Winter Memories in the Juvenile Fillies Turf; and Theyskens' Theory, a European shipper coming off a listed stakes win in Britain.
The Garden City goes as race 9 on a 10-race card and is the third leg of a pick four pool that has a guaranteed pool of $300,000. The race will be shown live on MSG-Plus from 5 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
Though it took her five starts to win a maiden race, Hungry Island hasn't lost since doing that on May 6. She went 3 for 3 at Belmont during the spring/summer meet before rallying from last and overcoming a dawdling pace and yielding turf to win the Lake Placid by 2 1/2 lengths at Saratoga.
"I thought she ran very good, closed quick,'' McGaughey said. "She was doing so good then, I was pretty confident. Obviously, you don't know whether you're going to beat [Winter Memories] but I was sure confident she was going to run awfully well.''
McGaughey seems just as confident entering the Garden City.
"She had a really good work here last Sunday, seemed to come out of it well,'' McGaughey said.
Hungry Island will break from post 3 under Alex Solis.
Winter Memories had won 5 of 6 career starts – and finished second in the Juvenile Fillies Turf – before the Lake Placid in which she raced in between horses for most of the trip before diving to the inside in the stretch and finishing fourth.
Trainer Jimmy Toner and owner John Phillips made a rider switch from Jose Lezcano to Javier Castellano. But Toner said he feels the return to Belmont from Saratoga could be equally, if not more important for Winter Memories.
"I think so because of the wider turns and you can sit a little longer with her,'' Toner said. "Hopefully, you don't encounter as much traffic around here. Here you have a shot to get clear, you have enough of a run around the turns and the straightaways.
"I think she's the best filly, I just want her to get back to her game,'' Toner added.
Theyskens' Theory, a half-sister to 2005 2-year-old champion Stevie Wonderboy, is the wildcard. She has won 4 of 8 starts, including a one-mile listed race at Sandown Park in Britain. This will be her first attempt at 1 1/8 miles. Garrett Gomez rides.
Pinch Pie, third in the Alabama, returns to turf, a surface on which she has won 3 of 4 starts. Her trainer, Tony Dutrow, said he believes Pinch Pie has a better turn of foot on the turf than on dirt.
More Than Real has been freshened for this after finishing third behind Winter Memories in the Grade 2 Lake George.
Arch Support and Salary Drive complete the field.