Leave No Trace pounces to victory in G3 Vagrancy
Stakes Recap
May 18, 2024
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Leave No Trace pounces to victory in G3 Vagrancy

by Mary Eddy

WellSpring Stables' Leave No Trace regained her best form to post a stalking victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Phil Serpe, the 4-year-old Outwork dark bay won the Grade 1 Spinaway as a juvenile and finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies ahead of a troubled sophomore campaign that saw her soundly beaten in four starts at a variety of distances and on all three surfaces. This year, she has relished a return to sprinting on the dirt, including a last-out win by a neck in a local optional claimer on March 17 going the Vagrancy distance with similar stalk and pounce tactics.

"The allowance race she won in her last start kept at her at the races rather than in the breeding shed,” said Serpe. “I thought this was the right group of fillies that if she could beat this group it would get her to the next level. There's going to be tougher horses ahead for sure, but she did it right today. I thought she was impressive, and it will get her to the next spot."

Piloted to victory by Jose Lezcano, Leave No Trace emerged from post 5-of-6 as the sharp-starting Beguine took a swift lead to her outside to mark an opening quarter-mile in 22.24 seconds over the fast main track, with Leave No Trace keeping watch one length back in second.

Asset Purchase settled in third down the backstretch while post-time favorite Big Pond patiently awaited her cue from Junior Alvarado in fifth as the half-mile elapsed in 44.72. Asset Purchase was coaxed to the outside of Leave No Trace in the turn while the latter came under a ride and was tipped outside of a resolute Beguine at the top of the lane.

Beguine fought on valiantly on the inside, but Leave No Trace needed just a tap of a right-handed crop at the eighth pole to edge clear of her rival and drive home strongly from the oncoming Big Pond, who angled three-wide off the rail exiting the turn, to her outside. Big Pond gained with every stride and loomed large after three-quarters in 1:09.36, but Leave No Trace had enough left to stave off the challenge and cross the wire three-quarter lengths in front in a final time of 1:15.91.

It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to the late-running Hot Fudge, who got up in time to land show honors by a neck over Beguine with Imonra and Asset Purchase completing the order of finish.

Serpe praised the ride from Lezcano, who has ridden the filly in three of her four lifetime wins, all at sprint distances.

"She ran very well. You don't have to tell him very much about how to ride this filly in the sprint races because she's 4-for-4 in [dirt] sprints and he's 3-for-4 on her in sprints,” said Serpe. “He knows her and I'm happy with how he rode her.”

Lezcano said he was pleased to see Leave No Trace show the same good form that led her to win Saratoga Race Course's prestigious seven-furlong Spinaway by 1 1/2 lengths in 2022.

“She's coming back into form. She acted good last time and acted pretty good today,” said Lezcano. “I always thought she was a nice filly. I think she's coming back to being herself. Always doing better and better.

"She did it pretty easily. She was very comfortable,” he added. “When I asked her, she ran on and won the race."

Alvarado said the Grade 1-placed Big Pond, who was making her first start for Hall of Famer Bill Mott after previously being in the care of Tim Yakteen, finished up well.

"I just couldn't hold my spot on the back side. I was in a good spot at the beginning and then she didn't want to be between horses. So, I had to let it be,” Alvarado said. “She was good with the kick back. She made a good run at the end. I just ran out of track at the end."

Serpe said he is taking a slow and steady approach with Leave No Trace with her next target still to be determined.

"We have to take it one step at a time with her. We've been dealing with a bruised foot issue that she got down in Florida and we're still dealing with that,” Serpe said. “We have to make sure that's right all the time. She was in an allowance race a few weeks ago here and we had to scratch her because she was just not right. I'm glad it led us to this race here."

Bred in Kentucky by Red Cloak Farm, Leave No Trace banked $96,250 in victory and boosted her total purse earnings to $748,250 through an 11-4-1-1 record. She returned $19.60 on a $2 win ticket.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont at the Big A with a nine-race card, featuring the Listed $150,000 Paradise Creek in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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