Video: Sands Point S. (G2T)
With her 2 3/4-length triumph, On Leave becomes the 30th group/graded stakes winner for Claiborne Farm sire War Front and the fifth graded winner out of blue hen Meghan's Joy, a daughter of A.P. Indy who from eight winners and six stakes winners had previously produced graded stakes winners—Ironicus (Distorted Humor), Norumbega (Tiznow), Hunting (Coronado's Quest), and Quiet Harbor (Silver Deputy).
After setting comfortable fractions and maintaining a clear lead throughout under regular rider Jose Ortiz, On Leave is unbeaten in four starts this year for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey since returning from an eight-month layoff this spring. She broke her maiden by two lengths in her sophomore debut at Belmont Park in June and returned to win an allowance optional-claiming event in July. She proved much the best in her stakes unveiling this summer at Saratoga Race Course, overcoming a troubled start to score by 2 1/2 lengths in the Riskaverse Aug. 25.
On Leave went immediately to the lead in the Sands Point and showed the way through fractions of :24.92, :49.86, and 1:13.80 for six furlongs while Elysea's World tracked a length back in second. Opening up by 2 1/2 lengths into the stretch, On Leave ran on strongly to get the easy win in 1:47.82 for 1 1/8 miles as the favorite on the firm inner turf course.
"She's on a roll now," McGaughey said of On Leave, who has a 4-1-1 record from six career starts. "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."
"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 Queen Elizabeth (II Challenge Cup [gr. IT) on Oct. 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."
Ortiz said On Leave had 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," he said. "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."
On Leave paid $3.50, $2.70, and $2.30, Diamond Fields returned $5.40 and $3.90, and Tin Type Gal paid $3.20 to show. Al Jazi, Galileo's Song, and Elysea's World completed the order of finish.