05/05/2017 6:00PM

By The Moon splashes to victory in Vagrancy

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
By The Moon takes a 1 3/4-length victory over Pretty N Cool in the Vagrancy on Friday at Belmont.

The Belmont Park track was very sloppy on Friday, and speed was very good over it. Throughout the card, winning horses were just about always those who had been first or second early.

And such was the case in the Grade 3 Vagrancy, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, as By the Moon bested Pretty N Cool by 1 3/4 lengths. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to third-place Quezon, who finished well but belatedly and never seriously challenged the top two.

At the start, By the Moon, with Rajiv Maragh aboard, pressed the pace inside Pretty N Cool. Maragh eased her off the pace after a furlong or so, then re-engaged Pretty N Cool from the outside on the far turn as those two drew away from the other six runners in the field.

By the Moon took control of the $200,000 race in upper stretch and then held her advantage to the wire. By the Moon paid $6 as a slight favorite over Pretty N Cool, who also was 2-1. By the Moon was timed in 1:17.44. The fractions were 22.57, 45.35, and 1:10.30.

"She got into a great flow down the backstretch, and in the turn she stayed in a nice rhythm," Maragh said. "I just didn't want the 9 horse [Pretty N Cool], who seemed to be my main opposition, to get too much of a jump on me, so I wanted to keep her in range."

The victory was important for By the Moon, who is owned by the Jay Em Ess Stable of Samantha Siegel and trained by Michelle Nevin, as she had finished a close second in three of her four previous starts. In her prior race, the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie, By the Moon looked home-free in the stretch but was nailed on the wire and lost by a neck.

By the Moon, 5, now has a 5-6-1 record from 16 starts and earnings of more than $1.1 million. She has a stakes victory in each of her four seasons of competition. She won the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap at Belmont last year, the Caesar's Wish in the mud at Laurel Park in 2015, and scored her Grade 1 win over a sloppy Belmont surface in the 2014 Frizette.

"She loves Belmont," Nevin said.