OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Trainer Phil Serpe was at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday to watch a number of his WellSpring Stables-owned stakes horses breeze, including Grade 1 Spinaway winner Leave No Trace, who went a half-mile solo in 50.82 over the main track; Canadian Classic-winner Safe Conduct, who went five-eighths in 1:03.44 over the Oklahoma training turf; and last-out Union Avenue-winner Bank On Anna, who worked a half-mile in 48.72 on the main.
Leave No Trace was purchased for $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale and captured the Grade 1 Spinaway in September at Saratoga; while Safe Conduct, purchased for $45,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, won the $1 million Queen’s Plate last year at Woodbine Racetrack.
Serpe credited Dr. Robert Vukovich, proprietor of WellSpring Stables, for finding value at the sales.
“He has his own theories on how he purchases horses and what he looks for in a horse,” Serpe said. “I don’t think he ever thought he’d be winning races like the Queen’s Plate or the Spinaway when he bought these horses, but the great thing about horse racing is that these horses don’t check their purchase price at the top of the stretch. The great ones are born great and whether they cost $4,400 or $4 million, that’s what they are.
“You can buy one for $40,000 and win some races and have some fun and that’s what these people like to do,” Serpe added. “I think that should be a message to people – try to buy an athlete, try to buy a nice horse; and don’t worry about what they cost.”
Leave No Trace will look to double up on Grade 1 wins in the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette, a one-turn mile on October 2 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet, offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Keeneland.
The Outwork bay has made two starts at Saratoga, graduating on debut in July in a restricted maiden special weight ahead of a 1 1/2-length score on September 4 in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Spinaway, besting Debutante-winner Wonder Wheel by 1 1/2-lengths.
“She’s doing well. It was an easy half-mile,” Serpe said of Sunday’s breeze.
Serpe said the added furlong in the Frizette and the possibility of stretching out around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies would suit Leave No Trace.
“She’s bred for it. She stepped up and ran seven-eighths last time,” Serpe said. “I think the added distance is something that’s going to help her.”
Bred in Kentucky by Red Cloak Farm, Leave No Trace, is out of the Good Journey mare Tanquerray.
Safe Conduct was a game second in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth on June 18 ahead of a non-threatening fifth last out after attending a swift early pace in the restricted Lure on August 6 traveling 1 1/16 miles over the Spa turf.
Serpe said the 4-year-old Ontario-bred Bodemeister colt, could target the nine-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker on October 9 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
“We were up there early and I think it cost the horse,” said Serpe of the Lure effort. “I think it was a mistake on my behalf. I think we would have been better off letting the horse sit a little bit. So, we freshened him up and right now he’s headed towards the Knickerbocker. The main thing with him is he likes firm footing, so hopefully there’s plenty of warm weather and the grass will be firm.”
New York-bred sophomore filly Bank On Anna captured the Union Avenue last out on August 12 traveling six-furlongs on the Spa main track against older state-bred company.
The Central Banker bay graduated emphatically against fellow state-breds by six lengths at third asking in January at the Big A and followed with a state-bred optional-claiming score in March at the same track. Bank On Anna was third in the NYSSS Park Avenue in April at Aqueduct ahead of a state-bred optional-claiming score in May at Belmont before traveling upstate to Saratoga.
Serpe said Bank On Anna will target the $150,000 Iroquois, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint state-bred fillies and mares 3 years old and up on October 30.
Bred in the Empire State by Lou Corrente, Bank On Anna boasts a record of 8-4-1-1 for purse earnings of $256,200.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Leave No Trace wins the Grade 1 Spinaway (NYRA/Coglianese)