On Leave rockets to victory in Riskaverse
by John Scheinman
With a lightning-quick slingshot move off the far turn, Stuart Janney III's On Leave left her opposition behind and won the first stakes race of her career, taking the $100,000 Riskaverse for 3-year-old fillies on Thursday at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the gray or roan daughter of War Front out of the A.P. Indy mare Meghan's Joy ran the mile on an inner turf course labeled "good" in 1:35.74.
The victory was the third in three starts this year for On Leave, who raced twice last year, finishing second in a maiden race at Saratoga and third at Belmont Park before breaking through this past June after an eight-month layoff.
"I said it was getting late in the year and let's give her the time she needs and bring her back [this year]," McGaughey said. "I always thought she had potential, and of course she came back and won. Her maiden race was kind of an easy race, but she beat a pretty good field in her [allowance] race, and she even improved off that today. If we can keep going in the right direction, we're going to have fun."
When the Riskaverse began, long shot Marquee Miss shot to the lead under jockey Junior Alvarado and opened up a 2 1/2-length lead through a fast first quarter-mile in 23.12 seconds. While Truth and Baciami Piccola tracked the pace, On Leave was pushed wide on the first turn and wound up next-to-last in the field of nine.
On the backside, On Leave began to slowly advance past horses, as Marquee Miss cut through a half-mile in 48.13 seconds and six furlongs in 1:12.50. On the turn for home, Ortiz swung On Leave out five wide and she accelerated rapidly to swoop past the field and win by 2 1/2 lengths.
"She stumbled a little bit leaving the gate and then I had a lot of trouble on the first turn," Ortiz said. "On the backside, I'm four wide and they started slowing down a little bit so I decided to move and keep going forward. When we got to the three-eighths pole, I asked her a little bit and I had a ton of horse. I was pretty confident. Then, when I made my move at the quarter pole, she exploded."
She Doesn't Mind rallied to finish second followed by Pricedtoperfection, Truth, Marquee Miss, Baciami Piccola, Sky My Sky, Thrilled and Enjoy Yourself.
Sent off at 9-5, On Leave paid $5.60 for a $2 win bet and increased her lifetime earnings to $181,300.
On Leave was cut out to be a top horse. Her dam, Meghan's Joy, has multiple-graded-stakes winner Ironicus and 2014 Brooklyn Handicap winner Norumbega as well as five other runners that rang up six-figure earnings.
"It's an unbelievable family," McGaughey said.