Gets First Stakes Win of 2018
By Dick Downey
Connections quotes by Jennie Rees
Photo by Reed Palmer
On Leave, trained by Shug McGaughey, hadn't won a stakes race this year, but he took care of that issue in the One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Saturday.
The One Dreamer is for fillies and mares three years old and up that haven't won a stakes race this year, a condition that hit On Leave right between the eyes. She's competed in multiple graded stakes from Gulfstream Park to Belmont Park this year, but came up just a bit short each time.
With blinkers added today and sent off at 3-2 odds from near the far outside post under Florent Geroux, On Leave bided her time well off the rail and 2 1/2 lengths off the pace behind longshots Youngest Daughter and Burma Road as well as Gianna's Dream and 62-1 shot Arraign up the backstretch Heading into the sweeping, downhill far turn of the European-style turf course.
Leaving the turn, Youngest Daughter, Burma Road and Arraign still led, but Geroux was asking a responsive On Leave. She soon took command and at the furlong marker led by 1 1/2 lengths under urging. I Remember Mama and Corey Lanerie made a serious run at On Leave mid-stretch, but she turned them back and won by a half-length, timed in 1:45.79. Last Promise Kept, ridden by Feargal Lynch, was a head back of I Remember Mama in third, followed a neck by Dubara.
The remaining order of finish was Arraign in fifth followed by Burma Road, Red Dane, English Affair, Gianna's Dream and Youngest Daughter. Prado's Sweet Ride was pulled up after the start. Celestial Insight and Con Te Partiro were scratched.
Of the $239,875 purse, $147,250 goes to the winning owner Stuart S. Janney III. On Leave returned her backers $5.00 to win, $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show.
A 5-year-old gray or roan mare, On Leave is by War Front out of Meghan's Joy, by A.P. Indy. She was bred in Kentucky by Janney.
On Leave had been winless since taking the Grade 3 My Charmer Stakes at Gulfstream Park last December. In March, she was beaten a half-length in the Grade III Honey Fox at the same track, and she followed that with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes on Kentucky Derby day; a close fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Just A Game at Belmont Park in June; and a fourth-place run in the listed Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga last time out.
Reeve McGaughey (assistant to and son of trainer Shug McGaughey): “It looked like she was about the winner the whole way around there. I think the horse on the lead stopped pretty quick, so he probably made the lead a little earlier than he wanted. He said she kind of wanted to wait on other horses, which is not anything new for her. But she finished up well. I think she won pretty comfortably. She hasn’t won a race since December, so hopefully this gets her confidence going again. Now we can maybe take a shot against the big girls again.”
Florent Geroux: “I was laying about fourth. There were about three horses going for the lead and I was on the outside. I sat there and saw those horses were getting tired maybe before the quarter pole, so I took my filly out. Actually I felt I was maybe making the lead a little bit soon because she’s had the tendency of not winning lately. But when those horses started stopping in front, I didn’t want to take the risk of the heavy favorite being stuck behind horses. So I decided to move from there. She ran all the way to the wire. She got to wandering around the last eighth of a mile. But she was able to hold off those horses.
“For sure she was extremely well spotted. You couldn’t have found a better spot for that mare in the country, for horses that haven’t won a stakes race this year. She’s been unlucky against some of the tougher competition, the leading contenders in the country among fillies and mares. So it was a well-deserved win for her.”
Corey Lanerie (runner-up I Remember Mama): “She broke and she was just so relaxed back there. I was maybe a little farther back than I would have wanted but I let her run her race. Then at the quarter pole, just finding which lane where I wouldn’t get stopped. Kind of got lucky and got right through but the wire came up just a little too soon. I don’t know if I was going to get by her (On Leave), but I felt like I was going to. But she ran awesome.”
Tommy Drury (runner-up I Remember Mama): “We knew we were stepping up and taking a shot. I’m just glad we ran well and she’s back safe. I think we can get the call on Lanerie at Churchill now. I’m just really proud of her. She just ran her race, and that’s all we can ever ask of them. Glad to be a part of it.”
Julien Leparoux on Prado’s Sweet Ride (pulled up after start): “Just leaving the gate, I don’t know if she tied up or what, but when she left she just couldn’t push off from behind. When I stopped, she was fine. Actually the first step she broke OK the first push. But from there she really couldn’t push and started hopping, and that was it.”