SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – WellSpring Stables’ Bank On Anna scored the first stakes win of her career under a well-timed ride by Jose Lezcano in Friday’s $125,000 Union Avenue Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for state-bred fillies 3-years-old and up, at Saratoga Race Course.
Last seen finishing a troubled fifth in a first-level allowance against open company on July 23 at the Spa, the Phil Serpe-trained Bank On Anna returned to state-bred company with authority as she scored the 2 3/4-length victory in her third stakes outing. Her previous best stakes effort was a runner-up finish to Galaxina in the NYSSS Park Avenue in April at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Away cleanly from post 4 under Jose Lezcano, Bank On Anna settled comfortably behind pacesetting favorite Mashnee Girl as she led the field of seven through an opening quarter-mile in 22.94 seconds over the fast main track. Mashnee Girl continued a steady tempo down the backstretch, marking off a half-mile in 46.35 as Bank On Anna remained in second with Snicket and Eloquent Speaker on even terms for third. Post-time second choice Secret Love, with Hall of Famer John Velazquez up, tracked at the rear of the field after stumbling badly at the start.
Secret Love came under a ride to pick off rivals with Eloquent Speaker being asked for more to the outside in the turn, but Bank On Anna overtook the lead from a tiring Mashnee Girl to come away with the advantage with a right-handed tap of the crop from Lezcano at the eighth pole. The Trevor McCarthy-piloted Snicket charged down the center of the racetrack to make up ground late with Secret Love chasing to her outside, but Bank On Anna was much the best and stopped the clock in a final time of 1:12.32.
Bank On Anna got a much cleaner trip this time compared to her last outing where she was compromised at the start and was in tight along the inside, something Serpe said explained the fifth-place finish.
“She’s just a solid horse. Without making up excuses, she had a rough trip last time out,” Serpe said. “Broke kind of flat-footed and got squeezed in on the rail and just lost all chance after that. She’s been really training well up to this race, so we’re really happy.”
Lezcano said the daughter of perennial leading New York sire Central Banker did not need urging from the gate and responded well when asked for more down the lane.
“She broke good and I was right there – I didn’t ask her for nothing,” said Lezcano. “When I asked her, she went on and won the race.”
Serpe, whose top New York-bred performers include multiple graded stakes-placed millionaire Weekend Hideaway and stakes winners Lady Joan and Goodbye Brockley, said that Dr. Robert Vukovich’s WellSpring Stables adds to a long list of accomplished owners he has trained horses for.
“We’ve had so many nice New York-breds because of Flying Z Stable, Mr. and Mrs. Broman and now Dr. V. and his wife Laura,” said Serpe. “These races are great. The New York-bred program is just a really good program for people. For a lot of money or not so much money, you can get in on some really solid horses and you’ve got to really like the programs they have here because there are stake races at every meet – Saratoga, Aqueduct, and Belmont – and it’s just a good program.”
Serpe’s long history with WellSpring Stables includes a strong victory by the Ontario-bred Safe Conduct in last year’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack.
Bred by Lou Corrente, Bank On Anna returned $7.60 for a $2 win wager and earned $68,750 for her winning effort, increasing her total purse earnings to $256,200.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Saratoga with an 11-race card featuring the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special in Race 4 and the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave in Race 10. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present daily coverage and analysis of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Bank on Anna (Chelsea Durand)