News » Belmont Park: Weight a concern for Hilda's Passion in Vagrancy Handicap

June 3, 2011

If trainer Todd Pletcher has any concern regarding Hilda’s Passion entering Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park, it’s the amount of weight the multiple stakes-winning filly has to concede to her six competitors.

Hilda’s Passion, the only graded winner among the seven entered in the 6 1/2-furlong race, has to carry 123 pounds, conceding six to 10 pounds to the field. Just last week, in the $250,000 My Juliet Stakes at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., Tar Heel Mom lost a nose decision to Indian Legend, to whom she was conceding 10 pounds.

“It’s a lot of weight, it’s a big spread between some nice fillies,” Pletcher said. “At the same time, I wouldn’t trade spots with any of them.”

Hilda’s Passion has done little wrong since Pletcher put her on the dirt. Last summer at Saratoga, Hilda’s Passion won the off-the-turf Bennington Stakes by 8 3/4 lengths. She ended her 3-year-old season by winning the Grade 2 Raven Run over Keeneland’s Polytrack.

In four starts this year – all on dirt – Hilda’s Passion won the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie and Grade 2 Inside Information, while finishing second to Tar Heel Mom in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl and to Sassy Image in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff. Sassy Image, a confirmed Churchill Downs horse for course, came back to win the Winning Colors Stakes last Monday.

“I think we caught a filly that loves Churchill,” said Pletcher, who noted that the Humana Distaff went faster than the Churchill Downs Stakes for boys at the same seven-furlong distance later on the card. “It was a big race, we couldn’t get quite get there. The track may not have been playing extremely kind to speed.”

Hilda’s Passion, who will break from post 2 under Javier Castellano, may have to contend with a pace challenge from Tidal Pool or Curlina in the Vagrancy.

“I think Tidal Pool is the main other speed, we mixed it up with her last time,” Pletcher said. “We’ll let our filly run her race.”

Streaker (115 pounds) and Erin Rose (114) are two closers with a chance to threaten Hilda’s Passion late. Streaker has won four of five starts for trainer Shug McGaughey, including a solid victory in a third-level allowance race May 13.

Erin Rose makes her stakes debut after winning a pair of allowance races to begin her 4-year-old season.

“She’s stepping up,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “She’s always been a nice filly, just not the soundest. I think she has a lot of talent.”

Kissa Melissa and Kid Kate complete the field.