Hour Glass, trainer Todd Pletcher's second horse in Belmont Park's Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO), held off Tar Heel Mom by a half-length to win the $150,000 event for fillies and mares May 29.
The 4-year-old Hour Glass came into the Vagrancy in strong form, having won two of four starts in 2010 and finishing second to Tar Heel Mom in Aqueduct's Distaff Handicap (gr. II) over a muddy track April 17. Owned by Mill House, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Petionville--Suzanna Anna, by Tale of the Cat , posted her first stakes win.
A hot pace found five horses spread across the track in upper stretch. Hour Glass, under left-handed urging from David Cohen, prevailed in the final strides after Tar Heel Mom, on the far outside, had put a head in front at the sixteenth pole. The winning time for the 6 1/2-furlong test was 1:16.80 over a fast Belmont strip.
“We got a beautiful ride and the trip we thought we would get,” said Pletcher. “It looked like there’d be a hot pace, and it unfolded that way. She’s always run well – in every race she’s always been right there – and it was her turn to get the big one.”
Pacesetter Rightly So stuck around through the stretch drive for Cornelio Velasquez in spite of posting swift quarter-mile fractions of :21.85 and :44.50. She got the place spot by a neck over Tar Heel Mom and Alan Garcia, who rallied four wide around the turn but ran out of steam near the wire and had to settle for third.
Saarlight finished 3 3/4 lengths farther back in fourth, while Malibu Prayer, the Pletcher-trained 8-5 favorite, just didn't have it after tiring and finished fifth, nine lengths behind her stablemate. Hold That Prospect, after hounding Rightly So into the stretch, gave way and finished last of six.
“Malibu Prayer was a little too fresh first off the layoff,” said Pletcher. “She was a little too close to the pace, but hopefully this will move her forward.”
Hour Glass, who raced in hand while off the pace in fifth down the backstretch, split horses in traffic near the quarter pole before angling to the rail in upper stretch. She got through on the inside of Rightly So to lead narrowly a furlong out and battled the pacesetter all the way to the finish in a game effort all around with Tar Heel Man threatening on the outside.
“I had won on her coming down the rail, and I know she’s pretty game,” said Cohen of Hour Glass. “She’s not going to back out of it. I definitely had the confidence that she would go ahead and go through there. And that’s the way things opened up for us. She’s taken me through some pretty tight spots. I knew she had the heart to go through.”
Bred by Roasting Ear Ranch, Hour Glass picked up her fifth win in nine lifetime starts and boosted her earnings to $263,500 with the winning purse of $90,000. She has been worse than second just once in her career, a fourth-place effort as the favorite in the Barbara Fritchie Stakes at Laurel Park Feb. 15.
The winning bay filly was a $42,000 Keeneland September yearling buy in 2007.
Pletcher said the Ballerina (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 28 is a long-range goal for Hour Glass.
Sent off as the third choice, Hour Glass carried co-high weight of 119 pounds and paid $9.30, $4.90 and $2.50. The New York-bred Rightly So returned $10.60 and $4.80 in her first start against open company for trainer Tony Dutrow. The exacta paid $79. Tar Heel Mom, also toting 119, was $2.50 to show.
Lady Alexander scratched.