Horse racing: Bed o’ Roses a good fit for speedy Hilda’s Passion

Trainer Todd Pletcher said last week that Hilda’s Passion would run in the Bed o’ Roses as long as t

Trainer Todd Pletcher said last week that Hilda’s Passion would run in the Bed o’ Roses as long as the weight assignments weren’t too unfavorable.

Bracing for a severe disadvantage on that front, Pletcher and her owners got what they had anticipated, but will run in the Grade III race at Belmont Park on Sunday, anyway, instead of the more lucrative Grade I Princess Rooney at Calder next weekend.

There are graded stakes, many at the mile distance, stretched across the entire Fourth of July weekend into Monday, including short and relatively undistinguished fields for the Suburban and Dwyer at Belmont today.

For Sunday’s Bed o’ Roses, Hilda’s Passion has been installed as the 1-5 morning-line favorite, with none of her six rivals listed at better than 8-1.

One of the top female sprinters in the country, Hilda’s Passion, co-owned by Starlight Racing and Charles Glasscock, will carry 124 pounds, giving from 9-11 to the rest of the field.

“The choices were to run at Belmont at seven furlongs or go to Calder next weekend, where she’d probably be 3-5,” said Schenectady native Don Lucarelli, who co-manages Starlight with Jack Wolf of Saratoga Springs. “The Princess Rooney is a Grade I for a lot more money, but the fact is, we don’t know that track and you have to ship. In the overall scope, the goal is to win the Ballerina. We want to make sure we have the same horse out of this next race that we already have.”

Hilda’s Passion will take a little break after the Bed o’ Roses and wait for the Grade I Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course on Travers Day.

The 4-year-old daughter of Can­adian Frontier has been a busy girl in the first half of 2011, with a record of 3-2-0 from five graded stakes for earnings of $357,737.

Her three wins, including the Grade II Vagrancy at Belmont Park four weeks ago, have come by a combined 13 lengths.

She set a track record for seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park in the Grade II Inside Information and won the 61⁄2-furlong Vagrancy at 2-5 by 51⁄4 lengths over Curlina, despite stumbling out of the gate.

“If she didn’t stumble out of the gate, she might have set another track record,” Lucarelli said.

Hilda’s Passion ran a 1:14.81, 35-hundredths of a second off the record set by Bear Fan in 2004.

She’ll use this race as the final one in the cycle, then take some time off.

“This race is not her ultimate goal,” Lucarelli said. “If that track [Calder] isn’t kind to her, you might not have a horse for the rest of the year.

“We’ll give her some time off, because she has had some races in a row. If we find another race in New York [after the Ballerina], the Breeders’ Cup could be the third race off the layoff.”

Hilda’s Passion is 5-2-0, all stakes, since winning the listed Bennington at Saratoga last year.

“She’s been better as a 4-year-old,” Pletcher told the New York Racing Association. “Her races have been less taxing. I believe that’s due to her physical maturity more than anything.”

“Todd said she’s a totally different horse from last year,” Lucarelli said. “She’s matured, she’s carrying more weight.”

Besides the presence of Hilda’s Passion, the Bed o’ Roses has some extra Capital Region flavor, as Mechanicville native Chad Brown will saddle Kid Kate, and Spa City Princess is a homebred of Adam Madkour of Saratoga Springs.

Both are 12-1.

Kid Kate is winless in four starts since opening 2011 with a win in the Correction at Aqueduct.

Spa City Princess has a had a pretty solid year, with two listed stakes wins at Aqueduct and a third by disqualification behind Awesome Maria against a short field in the Grade II Shuvee.

Christine Daae took a long break after finishing sixth in the Grade I Test at Saratoga last August. She came back with an allowance optional claimer win by four lengths at Gulfstream Park in April and gets Ramon Dominguez in the saddle for the Bed o’ Roses.


Rodman is the 2-1 favorite in a short field of six for the Suburban off his second to Tizway in the Met Mile.

The field is conspicuously lacking in graded stakes victories.

Rodman is 6-4-0 from 15 lifetime starts and won the Grade III Queens County at Aqueduct, but that was over a year and a half ago.

Convocation was second to Haynesfield in the 2010 Suburban, and Colizeo and the New York-bred Icabad Crane are consistent.

Colizeo is 4-1-3 from his last nine starts, all but one a stakes, and Icabad Crane, bred at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, is 6-6-8 from 24 lifetime starts and will try open company for the second race in a row after finishing third behind Apart and Colizeo in the William Donald Schaefer on the Preakness undercard.

Having avoided the Triple Crown entirely, Adios Charlie has a chance to build some momentum in the 3-year-old division if he wins the Dwyer, where he’s the 6-5 favorite.

He hasn’t raced since finishing second to Alternation in the Peter Pan on the Saturday bookended by the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He won the Grade II Jerome prior to that.

“As the Triple Crown races unfolded, it might have been nice to be involved, but everything has worked out for this horse,” trainer Stan Hough told NYRA. “I couldn’t be any happier. There are a lot of races for 3-year-olds, and a lot of choices, and I really like the way he’s coming into this race.”

Many miles

Today’s stakes include the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park and an intriguing edition of the Salvator Mile at Monmouth, the field of which includes Morning Line, Rule, Soaring Empire, Friesan Fire and Kensei.

On Monday, Churchill will offer the Grade II Firecracker Handicap, and Hollywood Park has the Grade II Royal Heroine.

Morning Line is 9-5 in the Salv­ator Mile off his win in the Grade I seven-furlong Carter, and Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said last week that Morning Line will be pointing toward the Whitney at Saratoga.

Rule hasn’t won since the Sam Davis last year, but continues to try tough spots.

Soaring Empire and Kensei finished well behind Tizway in the Met Mile, and back with trainer Larry Jones, hasn’t won since last year’s Louisiana Handicap.

Courageous Cat is the 9-5 fav­orite in the Shoemaker, which is designated as a “Win and You’re in” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile through the BC Challenge series. Courageous Cat is coming off a win in the Poker at Belmont.

Grade I winner General Quarters drew the rail against 10 rivals in the Firecracker.

More stakes

The Bed o’ Roses card has a distinct 2-year-old component, as the Futurity for colts and Matron for fillies, both Grade II’s, return to the New York schedule after a hiatus in 2010.

Tarpy’s Goal is cross-entered in today’s Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs, which is the tougher spot even though it’s a Grade III, but he’s set to run in the Futurity, where he’s the 2-1 favorite against five. He’s 8-1 against 10 in the Bashford Manor.

He won first time out at Churchill.

“You don’t know what you’ll catch in these races, but I thought he could win first time out,” trainer Dale Romans told NYRA. “He certainly seemed like the type that could.”

Born Bullish, a daughter from the first crop by Flashy Bull, is the 3-1 second choice behind Defy Gravity in the Matron.

The other Grade I on this busy weekend is the United Nations on the Monmouth Park turf on Sunday.

Globe-trotting Chinchon, who won the United Nations by a length and a half over Starlight Racing’s Take the Points last year, returns as the 5-2 favorite.

Since then, Chinchon has finished out of the money in France, Canada, Dubai and Singapore.

Multiple graded stakes winner Bourbon Bay has shipped cross-country and is the 3-1 second choice. The field also includes Stacelita, earner of over $1.5 million in France.

Handel leaving

NYRA executive vice president and COO Hal Handel will be leaving his post after the Saratoga meet.

“I have been managing racetracks continually for more than 25 years, and the time has come to do some different things,” said Handel, who was hired by NYRA in 2007. “This decision was made before the Kentucky Derby, and the timing was agreeable to NYRA.”

Handel, 63, previously held executive roles at Philadelphia Park, Monmouth Park, and the Meadowlands. He has also served as the Chairman of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, President of Thoroughbred Racing Assoc­iations, and Trustee of the American Horse Council.

Cornacchia passes away

Joseph M. Cornacchia, co-owner of Kentucky Derby winners Strike the Gold and Go For Gin and a former New York Racing Association board member, died on Sunday at the age of 78.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Cornacchia made his mark in the board game industry as the manufacturer of Trivial Pursuit and was the president and founder of The Games Gang, which produced Pictionary and Balderdash.

He partnered with B. Giles Brophy and William Condren to buy Strike the Gold as a 2-year-old in 1990, and they won the 1991 Derby with him. Cornacchia and Condren did it again in 1994, with Go For Gin. They also co-owned 1996 Preakness winner Louis Quatorze.

All three horses were trained by Zito.

Around the tracks

Preakness winner Shackleford’s little break at WinStar Farm is over, and he was back in his stall in Dale Romans’ barn at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning to begin training for the July 31 Haskell at Monmouth Park. . . .

Astrology had a lackluster return to the track last Saturday in his first since finishing third in the Preakness.

Sent off at 1-2 in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, he never got in the game and was sixth to Prayer for Relief. . . .

Starlight Racing’s promising Artisanal was fifth under Chris DeCarlo in her stakes debut, the Boiling Springs, on a yielding turf at Monmouth Park last Saturday.

Lucarelli said she grabbed a quarter three-quarters of the way through the mile-and-a-sixteenth race.

“She started to make a move, and from that point on, he said she was running on three legs,” Lucarelli said. “And she was sort of rank, and it looked like she didn’t like the soft going. It was yielding. You hate to make excuses, but we’ve got one.

“She wouldn’t have caught the winner, anyway, but she could’ve at least gotten second. She took a decent-sized chunk out. Depending on her foot, we’re looking at an overnight stakes at Saratoga.” . . .

Apprentice jockey Ryan Cur­atolo broke his collarbone at Belmont last Friday when he fell from his mount, Vision of Jewels, in the fourth race.

He is expected to be out for about six weeks. The 19-year-old native of France had just won his first stakes race the previous Saturday, on Street Game in the Grade III Hill Prince. . . .

In Japan, the 6-year-old Earnestly held off the favorite and Japanese Horse of the Year Buena Vista for a 11⁄2-length victory in the Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Race Course last Sunday to gain an automatic starting position into the Breeders’ Cup Turf through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.

Also qualifying for the BC Turf, in France, was the 4-year-old filly Sarafina, by winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

On Saturday in Ireland, Coolmore’s 3-year-old filly Misty For Me qualified for the BC Filly and Mare Turf with a six-length victory over 2009 Filly and Mare Turf winner Midday in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. . . .

Group 1-winning stars Treasure Beach and Canford Cliffs, based in Ireland, and So You Think (New Zealand) have been nominated to the Breeders’ Cup through the spec­ial Open Enrollment program.

Here and there

The 3-year-old division took another hit when Fountain of Youth winner Soldat, off since his 11th in the Kentucky Derby, was sent to the farm in Lexington, Ky., by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for a month or two of rest.

McLaughlin said Soldat may return to the races in the fall, and when he does, the colt will run on the turf again. . . .

Pluck, owned in part by Warren Moessner of Coeymans Hollow through Team Valor, has begun jogging on the Tapeta at Fair Hill training Center in Mary land after being turned out for two months to heal bruised cannon bones. . . .

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame patrons can now experience the museum and hall of fame via an interactive iPad tour.

The iPad tour costs $3 in addition to regular museum admission.

Saratoga handicapping

Debuting an expanded 150-player format in 2011, the second annual Saratoga Handicapping Tourn­ament will take place Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 10-11, at Sar­atoga Race Course.

With $150,000 in prize money and a trip to the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship at stake, the Saratoga Handicapping Tournament will he held in the At the Rail pavilion, with the top three finishers to represent the Spa at the January 2012 national tournament in Las Vegas.

In addition to prize money, the top three will receive airfare reimbursement and hotel accommod­ations for the DRF/NTRA tourn­ament.

First place in the two-day tournament is worth $75,000 and cash prizes will be offered to all of the Top 15 finishers. Additionally, the leader after Day 1 and the contestant with the highest Day 2 bankroll will each receive $1,500.

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