Hilda's Passion Headlines Vagrancy Handicap
By New York Racing Association
ELMONT, N.Y. – Hilda’s Passion goes for her fifth stakes win Saturday as she heads a field of seven fillies and mares in the Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old Canadian Frontier filly, who will be making her first Belmont appearance in the 6 1/2-furlong Vagrancy, is 4-2-0 in seven starts since being moved to trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn last summer, including front-running victories in the Grade 2 Inside Information and the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream Park this year.
“She’s run some really good races this year,” said Pletcher of Hilda’s Passion, who in her most recent start finished second as the favorite to Sassy Image in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. “The filly that beat her last time came back to win a stake [Grade 3 Wining Colors at Churchill]. She’s been training well and has been a consistent performer for us since we got her.”
Javier Castellano will ride the 3-5 morning-line favorite from post position 2.
“I am concerned about the [inside] post but I am hopeful she will overcome it,” said Pletcher of Hilda’s Passion, who carries high weight of 123 pounds. “She seems to be the main speed in the race, although Tidal Pool may have something to say.”
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Tidal Pool finished fourth after prompting the pace in the Humana Distaff and is still seeking her first graded stakes win. Winner of the overnight Red Bud Stakes and an optional claimer at Oaklawn Park this spring, last year the Yankee Gentleman filly was second to Blind Luck in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park, third to Blind Luck in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks,and third to Acting Happy in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan.
John Velazquez rides Tidal Pool, 6-1 on the morning line, from post 5.
Making her second start is 2011 is Streaker, who came off an 11-month layoff to score by 1 ½ lengths in an optional claimer at Belmont on May 13. Last year, the Forest Wildcat filly won her first three starts but then finished last in the Grade 1 Acorn behind Champagne d’Oro after encountering traffic.
“She had some bumps and bruises, nothing major,” said Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who trains Streaker for the Phipps Stable. “We just gave her plenty of time.
“This is a big step for her, but she’s doing well enough to warrant it,” he added.
Jose Lezcano rides the 4-1 second choice on the morning line from the outside.
Making her stakes debut in the Vagrancy is the Christophe Clement-trained Erin Rose, who owns a pair of six-furlong optional claiming victories in as many starts this year, most recently at Belmont on May 6. A 10 ¾-length maiden winner last August at Monmouth Park, Erin Rose was second in two allowance races as well.
“This is an ambitious spot, but she is doing so well it seems warranted,” said Christophe Lorieul, Clement’s assistant, of the 4-year-old Purge filly.
Alex Solis will be aboard Erin Rose, who is 8-1 on the morning line from post position 4.
Rounding out the field are Kid Kate, winner of the Correction at Aqueduct and most recently third in the overnight Nany Stakes at Belmont on May 8; Curlina, who brings a four-race winning streak into her stakes debut, and Kissa Melissa, fourth behind Erin Rose on May 6.