Hilda's Passion dominates the Vagrancy.
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Hilda's Passion dominates the Vagrancy.
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Hilda's Passion Makes Quick Work of Vagrancy

Odds-on choice never headed in 5 1/4-length win in near record time at Belmont.

From the moment odds-on choice Hilda's Passion sprang from the starting gate in the $147,000 Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II), (VIDEO) there was little doubt about the outcome June 4. Despite a slight stumble, the speedy front-running filly rushed to the lead and was never headed, romping to victory by 5 1/4 lengths while just a couple of ticks off the Belmont Park track mark for 6 1/2 furlongs.

In registering her third graded win of the 2011 season for jockey Javier Castellano, Hilda's Passion was clocked in 1:14.81. The Belmont record of 1:14.46 was established by Bear Fan in the 2004 Vagrancy.

Owned by Starlight Racing and Charles Glassock and trained by Todd Pletcher, Hilda's Passion atoned for her second-place finish in the Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) at Churchill Downs as the 3-5 favorite on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 7.

Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Kuster bred the winning 4-year-old bay filly in Kentucky. She is by Canadian Frontier--Executricker, by El Prado.

Toting top weight of 123 pounds, Hilda's Passion led Curlina, who carried 113, through hot fractions of :22.34 and :44.91 in spite of a tight hold by Castellano. Hilda's Passion inched away rounding the turn and was finally let go in the stretch, where she gradually expanded her lead and drew off in the final furlong for an impressive win.

"As soon as the gate opened she’s so quick I think she tried to jump it and she stumbled very slightly," Castellano said of the start. "It wasn’t a big deal because she recovered herself. She’s a really nice filly. I know the fractions went pretty fast, but I didn’t feel that she was that fast. I just tried to enjoy the trip and when I asked her a little bit she took off.”

Curlina, ridden by Jorge Chavez at odds of 29-1, was a clear second all the way around, finishing four lengths in front of Tidal Pool, who was a nose ahead of Streaker. Erin Rose trailed in a field reduced to five by the scratches of Kid Kate and Kissa Melissa.

“She was conceding from six to 10 pounds to everyone in the race, but she’s a strong filly and doing well," Pletcher said. "I was a little worried when she stumbled a bit at the start, but she recovered so quickly. It looked as if she was at the top of her game today."

Pletcher said he would probably keep Hilda's Passion in New York this summer to run in the Bed o' Roses (gr. III) July 3 at Belmont Park and the Ballerina (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 27.

Hilda's Passion tired in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff after setting a hot pace to lose by three lengths to red-hot Sassy Image. At Gulfstream Park earlier in the year, she won both the Hurricane Bertie (gr. III) and the Inside Information (gr. II) stakes in handy front-running fashion. Her three victories in 2011 have come by a combined 13 lengths.

Hilda's Passion's seventh victory in 12 lifetime races was worth $90,000, which boosted her total earnings to $587,993.

Sent off at 2-5 odds, Hilda's Passion paid $2.90, $2.40, and $2.10 and topped a $51 exacta with the longest shot in the field. Curlina, whose three-race win streak was ended in her stakes debut for trainer Gary Gullo, returned $9.60 and $4.70. Tidal Pool, fourth in the Humana Distaff after prompting the pace, paid $2.90 to show.