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ELMONT, N.Y. – Stuart Janney III’s homebred On Leave kept her 2016 record intact with a 2 ¾-length front-running victory against 3-year-old fillies on the turf in Saturday’s featured race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point at Belmont Park.
On Leave broke alertly under jockey Jose Ortiz and led the field of seven through a tepid pace, covering the opening quarter-mile in 24.94 seconds and the half in 49.86. Pursued closest by Elysea’s World and Diamond Fields, the gray daughter of War Front held her rivals at bay as the field turned for home, cutting the corner and drawing off in the stretch to complete the 1 1/8-mile route on the firm inner turf in 1:47.82.
“There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race and we really never put her on the lead before but the circumstances made us,” said Ortiz. “She had a clean break and I put her there. She relaxed well and when I asked her from the quarter-pole going to the three-sixteenths [pole] she really gave me a good kick.”
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, the Shug McGaughey trainee returned $3.50 for a $2 win wager.
A half-sister to four graded stakes winners, most notably 2015 Grade 2 Bernard Baruch winner and 2016 Grade 1 Manhattan runner-up Ironicus, On Leave picked up the family torch with the first graded stakes victory of her own. The gray filly, who won her stakes debut by 2 ½ lengths in last month’s Riskaverse at Saratoga Race Course, is unbeaten in four starts this year for her Hall of Fame trainer and has amassed $481,300 in lifetime earnings.
“She’s on a roll now,” said McGaughey. “She’s won four in a row and today was the first time she’s been on the lead. Looking at the race, I thought it’s where she might be. I told Jose, ‘I don’t want to be going too fast.’ I thought he rode a great race. He asked her and she just took off with it.”
Diamond Fields held late for second, a neck ahead of Tin Type Gal. Al Jazi, Galileo’s Song and Elysea’s World completed the order of finish.
Shug McGaughey, winning trainer of On Leave (No. 5): “She’s on a roll now. She’s won four in a row and today was the first time she’s been on the lead. Looking at the race, I thought it’s where she might be. I told Jose [Ortiz], ‘I don’t want to be going too fast.’ I thought he rode a great race. He asked her and she just took off with it.”
“The distance shouldn’t be an issue. A lot of the War Fronts are better milers, but she handled it fine. I wouldn’t want to run her any farther than that this year, but maybe next year we’ll try and get her stretched out.”
“If everything works out right, I’d love to run her at Keeneland in the [Grade 1, $500,000] Queen Elizabeth [II Challenge Cup on October 15]. We’ll let her tell us that and see how she comes out of that. Hopefully she came out of it fine and we’ll go on to Keeneland and try things there.”
Jose Ortiz, winning jockey aboard On Leave (No. 5): “[It was] a perfect trip. There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race and we really never put her on the lead before, but the circumstances made us. She had a clean break and I put her there. She relaxed well and when I asked her from the quarter-pole going to the three-sixteenths [pole], she really gave me a good kick. Shug told me to play the break; whatever I decided would be fine with him and that gave the confidence [to put her on the lead]. She broke well and I didn’t think twice.”
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