BED O' ROSES HANDICAP | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE 3 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 7 FURLONGS
ELMONT, N.Y. -- In a weekend full of surprises in stakes races at Belmont Park, the biggest one came in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bed o' Roses Handicap when 15-1 shot Tamarind Hall -- who three months ago ran for a $15,000 claiming tag -- rolled to a 5 1/4-length victory over Kid Kate.
Meanwhile, multiple stakes winner Hilda's Passion, the 1-4 favorite, finished sixth of seven, triggering mammoth show payoffs. Tamarind Hall returned $33.80 to win, but $53 to show. Kid Kate returned $17 to place, but $53.50 to show. Third-place finisher Spa City Princess returned $64.50 to show. A total of $268,788 out of the $290,567 in the show pool was wagered on Hilda's Passion.
Earlier on Sunday's card, the maiden Jack's in the Deck ($30.20) won the Grade 2 Futurity for 2-year-old males and Millionreasonswhy ($15.80) took the Grade 2 Matron for juvenile fillies. On Saturday, Flat Out ($29.20) upset the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap as the longest shot in the field.
Tamarind Hall's win gave trainer Jeremiah Englehart his first graded stakes victory, and he came into the race hoping to be second.
"I thought she could be second," he said. "I didn't think there was a shot of beating Hilda's Passion."
Under David Cohen, Tamarind Hall broke on top but then was quite content to drop back into third position as Curlina, under Ramon Dominguez, took the lead by a length over Hilda's Passion through an opening quarter in 22.62 seconds and a half-mile in 45.55.
Approaching the quarter pole, Cohen guided Tamarind Hall in between those two fillies, and when she went through the hole she just exploded, opening up a six-length advantage by the eighth pole before settling for a 5 1/4-length score. She ran seven furlongs in 1:23.82.
"That's the way she's been; everything she does she's got her ears up, she's doing it like it's a walk in the park," said Englehart, who trains Tamarind Hall for Mark Von Drasek's Ekletikos Stable. "I was a little nervous when she broke in front then we took back, I'm like `Oh boy, it doesn't look like they're going that fast,' and I didn't think we'd be able to make it up. It looked like around the turn that David was still pretty confident. Once he asked her to go through the hole, she just exploded."
Cohen said he put his filly on the lead early, just in case the other speed didn't go. He knew his filly was versatile to come from off the pace. What he didn't know was how well she was going to respond when he asked her to split horses at the quarter pole.
"She responded a lot better than I envisioned her to," Cohen said. "She gave me that encouragement and that punch, and I just went on with it and kept that punch moving."
Meanwhile, Hilda's Passion, coming off a 5 1/4-length romp in the Grade 2 Vagrancy here June 4, didn't show the same punch Sunday that she did then, failing to make the lead under Javier Castellano and fading in the stretch. She was beaten 12 1/4 lengths.
"Usually, she breaks on top and is kind of sharp, and today she wasn't," Castellano said. "It wasn't her day today. The track is not a fast track, but it's not wet, it's kind of sticky a little bit. I don't know if that could be the reason, but today she wasn't the same horse."