09/17/2016 6:12PM

On Leave controls tempo in Sands Point

Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
On Leave, ridden by Jose Ortiz, cruises to a front-running 2 3/4-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Sands Point.

Trainer Shug McGaughey has asked On Leave to do a bit more in each of her four starts this season, and at Belmont Park on Saturday she once again showed she was up to the task, scoring a relatively easy 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point.

A daughter of War Front owned and bred by Stuart Janney III, On Leave is undefeated this year after failing to win in two tries at 2. She began her 3-year-old campaign with a maiden win at Belmont in June, took an allowance at the tail end of that meet, and then won the $100,000 Riskaverse at Saratoga. All of those wins came on turf at distances ranging from a mile to 1 1/16 miles.

In the Sands Point, McGaughey asked On Leave to go nine furlongs against a tougher caliber of competition.

"A lot of the War Fronts are better milers, but she handled it fine," McGaughey said. "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.”

Jose Ortiz let On Leave roll to the lead in the paceless six-horse field of 3-year-old fillies, and then deftly slowed down the tempo while keeping On Leave clear of Elysea's World, who settled into a stalking position.

Following a quarter-mile in 24.94 seconds and a half-mile in 49.86, On Leave began to pick up the pace, getting her next quarter in 23.94 seconds en route to a six-furlong clocking of 1:13.80. On Leave continued to pick up speed, getting a mile in 1:36.28 after a 22.48 quarter, and then cruised home in 11.54 seconds to stop the timer in 1:47.82.

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"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," Ortiz 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 she really gave me a good kick."

On Leave paid $3.50 to win as a lopsided favorite. McGaughey said he would consider the Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland on Oct. 15, for On Leave's next start.

"We'll let her tell us," McGaughey said.

Diamond Fields finished second after racing in third early, several lengths behind On Leave and Elysea's World. Diamond Fields saved ground to the stretch, rallied willingly in upper stretch, but then flattened out late and ultimately held the place by a neck over Tin Type Gal. It was another head back to French shipper La Jazi, who raced at the back of the pace early. Elysea's World tired to finish last, a length behind Galileo's Song.