Tar Heel Mom Highlights Vagrancy

Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out the comebacker Malibu Prayer and the rapidly improving Hour Glass in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park in attempt to turn the tables on Tar Heel Mom.


After winning the restricted Wheel Turns on Aqueduct’s inner track on March 21, Hour Glass finished second to Tar Heel Mom in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap in the mud over the Big A’s main track on April 17 last time out.


“She’s developed very well over the winter,” said Pletcher of Hour Glass, who was a close fourth three starts back in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie on Presidents Day in her first attempt against graded competition. “We were happy to win a stakes with her and glad to have the opportunity to try to win a graded stakes. That’s what we’re hoping for.”


Pletcher believes Hour Glass, a 4-year-old owned by Mill House, is in a good position here in this 6 ½-furlong dash to avenge her loss to Tar Heel Mom.


“We really didn’t have an excuse last time, but her pattern has been to run a huge race, then run a pretty good race, and then a huge race,” said Pletcher. “We hope she’s set for a peak effort.”


David Cohen retains the mount aboard Hour Glass, who will break from post position 2 and will carry 117 pounds as the 7-2 co-second choice.


While Malibu Prayer hasn’t raced since winning the one-mile, Grade 2 Chilukki at Churchill Downs back in November and may be better suited to longer races, the Edward P. Evans homebred gives Pletcher a powerful 1-2 punch.


“She has no conditions left and this seems like a good spot [for her return], even though it might be a little short,” said Pletcher. “She has good tactical speed, so I think she’ll be in a good spot.”


Malibu Prayer demonstrated some of that zip when she worked five furlongs in 59.34 at Belmont on May 23.


“She’s always been a very good work horse,” said Pletcher.


As for long-term plans for Malibu Prayer, Pletcher is keeping an open mind.


“The Ogden Phipps [Grade 1, June 12] probably comes back too quickly,” said Pletcher. “How she comes out of this race will help determine where she might race next.”


John Velazquez, who guided Malibu Prayer to victory in an overnight stakes at Belmont last September, will be reunited with the 4-year-old, who was assigned 117 pounds and drew post position 4. Like her stablemate Hour Glass, Malibu Prayer was tabbed at 7-2 on the morning line.

Pletcher has a formidable opponent in Tar Heel Mom, who also has the tactical speed to ensure a favorable trip.


Winner of three minor stakes earlier in her career, Tar Heel Mom opened her 2010 campaign by placing in three graded events at Gulfstream Park. After finishing third by a head in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl in January, the 5-year-old completed the exacta in both the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie in February and Grade 2 Inside Information in March.


Having stalked the pace in those three efforts at Gulfstream, Tar Heel Mom used front-running tactics to secure her first graded victory in the Distaff Handicap. In the Vagrancy, the Alex Rankin colorbearer was made the 119 pound highweight and 5-2 morning line favorite as she seeks her second consecutive victory.


Alan Garcia, who rode Tar Heel Mom in the Hurricane Bertie and Inside Information, hops back aboard the daughter of Flatter, who will break from post position 3.


Tar Heel Mom will likely have to cede the early lead to the speedball Hold That Prospect, who was claimed by her current connections for $30,000 in March 2009 and who will make her graded stakes debut in the Vagrancy.


Owned by Funky Munky Stable, Hold That Prospect won a pair of minor stakes over the inner track this winter, but lost her chance of completing the hat trick when she stumbled badly at the start of the Wheel Turns.


Richie Munk, managing partner for Funky Munky Stable, believes Hold That Prospect will reclaim her customary spot up front in the Vagrancy, should she break cleanly.


“If anybody wants to go with us, they are welcomed to try,” said Munk.


Rightly So, who hails from the barn of Tony Dutrow, is a two-time stakes winner against New York-breds, but will face open company for the first time. The Zayat Stables representative was denied a third stakes victory last time out when she finished second by a nose in an overnight affair on the inner track on March 31.


Lady Alexander has won black-type events in New Jersey and in Florida, but has never won at the graded level or in New York. Trained by Bruce Alexander for Blue Star Stable, the chestnut will try to rebound off a fifth as the favorite in the February 27 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs.


Saarlight, second in the Grade 3 Nassau County a year ago, was second in a May 12 optional claimer over the Vagrancy’s course and distance after leading in the final sixteenth and getting tagged on the wire. The Vagrancy will be just her second start in 2010.


The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy:








Rightly So (NY)

C H Velasquez


A W Dutrow



Hour Glass (KY)

D Cohen


T A Pletcher



Tar Heel Mom (KY)

A Garcia


S M Hough



Malibu Prayer (VA)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Hold That Prospect (FL)

J F Chavez


G P Gullo



Lady Alexander (FL)

J Castellano


B Alexander



Saarlight (KY)

E Coa


K P McLaughlin








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