Staying in the barn Thursday as a main-track-only entrant in the P.G. Johnson S. worked out well for Leave No Trace. Entered right back in Sunday’s $300,000 Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga, the Phil Serpe trainee upstaged well-regarded opponents in a race worth much more to her resume.
WellSpring Stables’ Leave No Trace was a sharp debut winner here July 20, but her victory came in a somewhat easier spot than the typical Spa maiden. The 5 1/2-furlong affair was restricted to fillies who’d sold (or RNA’d) for $50,000 or less at their latest public auction.
Thus in the Spinaway, the daughter of Outwork went off as a 14.80-1 shot versus unbeaten Debutante S. romper Wonder Wheel, the 1.45-1 favorite; Just Cindy (4.40-1) and Naughty Gal (7.90-1), the respective winners of the Schuylerville (G3) and Adirondack (G3); and 3.85-1 second choice Kaling, an impressive winner in her local bow.
With Jose Lezcano aboard, Leave No Trace broke alertly and camped on the flank of pacesetting Naughty Gal through fractions of :22.84 and :46.66. Kaling, off a beat slow on the rail, advanced into a tracking spot. Wonder Wheel was traveling well in striking range on the outside, recalling trainer Mark Casse’s classifying her alongside his past juvenile champion Classic Empire.
Turning for home, Naughty Gal left the door ajar on the inside, and Kaling cornered adroitly into the lead. But she could not sustain her bid upon straightening. Wonder Wheel raced a bit greenly on her left lead and taking time to regain forward progress.
Instead, Leave No Trace was the one striding on purposefully to a 1 1/2-length upset. By negotiating seven furlongs in 1:24.03, she rewarded her fans with a $31.60 win mutuel.
“It’s great,” Serpe said of his first Grade 1 win since Birdonthewire in the 1993 Vosburgh (G1). “We are really, really happy for the people who own this horse. They’re great people, they’re deserving and it’s all around a great feeling for everyone.
“We kind of thought coming out of the gate she would be laying third or fourth, just let her finish up. But she broke real sharp and what are you going to say? I’m not out there, that’s Lezcano’s job.”
“I think she’s a very nice filly,” Lezcano said. “I never touched her before. She broke so well and she was right there. I really didn’t have to do too much. I let her (have) things her way and she did everything. When I asked her, she went on and won the race. I had a lot of horse going to the five-sixteenths.
“The way she did it, she did it so easy. I’m not surprised the way she did it. She traveled like a good horse, and she is.”
Wonder Wheel, once organized, finished with interest for second by 1 1/4 lengths.
“Obviously I would’ve like to have won,” Casse said, “but I thought she ran really well. She got hung out pretty wide. We were hung out and I could see Flavien (Prat aboard Kaling) flying up the rail and I thought, ‘Oh dear God.’ I decided to give her a little time to get her ready and now we’ll go to the Alcibiades ([G1] on Oct. 7 at Keeneland).
“She didn’t change (leads) until about the sixteenths pole. I thought maybe when she changed, she’d kick on again and she did. She ran well.”
Kaling held third, a half-length to the good of American Rockette who ran an excellent race after blowing the break. Drawn on the far outside in post 10, American Rockette made a beeline to her right, found herself a long-way last, and effectively lost all chance. She regrouped and offered a sustained rally in the lane, prompting a what-might-have-been with a normal start.
Next came Sabra Tuff; Just Cindy, another who was compromised out of the gate; Apple Picker; Aunt Shirley; Naughty Gal; and the tailed-off Miss Georgie.
The 2-for-2 Leave No Trace has earned $210,650. Bred by Red Cloak Farm in Kentucky, the bay was a bargain $8,000 Fasig-Tipton February yearling. She was purchased by Djuric Sporthorses and pinhooked for a profit, going to her current connections for $40,000 last October at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale.
Out of the Good Journey mare Tanquerray, Leave No Trace is the first graded winner on her page going back five dams. Her sixth dam, Irish Exchange, produced multiple Group 3 scorer Ya Zaman and factors as the ancestress of Australian Group 1 victors Hotel Grand and Outback Prince.
Serpe commented on Leave No Trace’s trajectory:
“Her first race was impressive. I don’t swear by Beyer numbers and sheet numbers, but I do use them as a tool. Her numbers were good, she was training great, she worked :59 and change for fun. You’ve got to go and make hay when the sun shines. Some horses in here had run a couple of times, some horses like her had only run one time. But you got to take a shot. That’s what racing is.
“I think we really don’t wind our two-year-olds up or our first-time starters up, at all. We have them fit and ready to run. When she won that day like that, she was impressive and that shows something in our barn. So, she was impressive and she’s been impressive since before we ever left Belmont. She was working well, easily :47 and change, and you have to be impressed with a horse like that. If you look at her, she’s gorgeous.
“She went through a growth spurt in the spring. She’s grown six inches in every direction which is what you want a horse to do in August going into September. It was everything you would like.
“We only wanted to go to today,” Serpe added regarding plans. “We had to see what was going on. It wasn’t like we were 3-5, but the odds almost don’t matter in races like this because you just don’t know who these fillies are yet and some of them are going to get better. Some of these in these races haven’t even broken their maidens yet. So, it’s a crapshoot. We’ll see how she is and come up with a plan.”