(Hot Fudge / Photo by Chelsea Durand & Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team / Christian Abdo:

KEM Stables’ Hot Fudge looks to return to her winning ways versus a classy field of six in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy, a 6 1/2-furlong main track sprint for older fillies and mares, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Linda Rice, the 5-year-old Liam’s Map dark bay had a five-race win streak broken last-out in the Grade 3 Distaff traveling seven furlongs on April 6 here. After a bobble at the start, she led the compact five-horse field through a half-mile in 47.50 seconds over the fast footing before fading and finishing off-the-board.

Rice said she will excuse the uncharacteristic performance from the ultra-consistent mare, who boasts an ​​8-for-14 lifetime record, due to various troubles in the Distaff.

“In her last race, she stumbled away from the gates, grabbed a quarter badly and pulled a shoe off and ran last,” Rice said. “But she had run five great efforts in a row prior to that, so we’re going to forgive her for that.”

Hot Fudge’s win streak featured three stakes scores in sprints at the Big A, including the Correction in March, Listed Interborough in January, and Garland of Roses in December. The triumphs make up an impressive 7-for-10 record since she returned from an over one-year respite last January.

Hot Fudge, whose only graded attempt before the Distaff came as a juvenile when seventh in Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Frizette, has completed three breezes over the Belmont dirt training track since her last effort, most recently covering five-eighths in 1:02.76 on May 12.

“She’s doing great,” said Rice, who captured this event in 2015 with New York-bred La Verdad. “I think she’s coming into the Vagrancy in great shape.”

Bred in Kentucky by Edwin Anthony, Hot Fudge, out of the winning Into Mischief mare Noelle’s Mischief, was a $235,000 purchase at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. She has banked $500,905 through a record of 14-8-1-1.

Hot Fudge will exit the inside post under her regular rider Kendrick Carmouche. She will carry a field-high 122 pounds, four more than each of her five rivals.

George Krikorian’s California homebred Big Pond [post 2, Junior Alvarado] has hit the board in 5-of-7 lifetime efforts including a nose defeat to the well-regarded Daddysruby in the Grade 1 La Brea traveling seven-furlongs in December at Santa Anita Park. Big Pond exited the race to score versus state-breds in the six-furlong Spring Fever there in February.

The 4-year-old Mr. Big bay will make her first outing Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, after beginning her career with conditioner Tim Yakteen. Mott and Krikorian have teamed up with last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Just F Y I in addition to multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire War Like Goddess.

Big Pond will shorten a half-furlong in distance after a distant finish last-out when bumped at the start of the seven-furlong Grade 1 Madison on April 6 at Keeneland. She has completed three half-mile works since the effort, most recently in 47.50 seconds over the Belmont Park dirt training track on May 11, an impressive second-of-172 workers at the distance.

Charles T. Matses’ graded stakes-placed Kentucky homebred Beguine [post 6, Eric Cancel] returns to New York from a six-month respite dating to a fourth-place result in the local Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Saturday’s distance in October.

Trained by Ned Allard, the 5-year-old Gun Runner chestnut won 2-of-4 efforts last year including the Alma North going 6 1/2 furlongs in July at Laurel Park, besting next-out Timonium Distaff-winner Response Time by 2 3/4 lengths. The effort improved upon an off-the-board result to two-time Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Goodnight Olive in the Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses in June at Belmont following a 9 3/4-length allowance romp there in her seasonal bow in May.

Allard said that while contesting graded stakes may have been too ambitious of a move last year, Beguine now seems well-prepared.

“She won so impressively first time [last year], we thought she was up for it. I think it was a little too ambitious of a move at the time,” said Allard. “We’ll see how she performs Saturday. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. Saturday’s race isn’t going to be a cakewalk by any means. She is going to have to put in a really good effort and I expect her to.”

The Vagrancy will mark Beguine’s fifth graded stakes attempt, including a close second beaten a neck by multiple graded stakes-winner Yuugiri in the Grade 3 Fantasy in April 2022 at Oaklawn Park for her former conditioner Daniel Peitz. In her first effort for Allard the following November, she earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure when defeated a half-length in a local 6 1/2-furlong allowance.

Out of the Allard-trained stakes-winning Eltish mare Shananies Song, Beguine is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Favorable Outcome and the multiple graded-stakes placed Bellamentary.

WellSpring Stables’ Grade 1-winner Leave No Trace [post 5, Jose Lezcano] returns to graded stakes company after a prominent neck-victory in a local optional claimer traveling Saturday’s distance on March 17. The 1:16.43 final time over the fast main track was awarded a career-best 88 Beyer.

Trained by Phil Serpe, the 4-year-old Outwork dark bay entered the winner’s circle for the first time since springing a 14-1 upset in the Grade 1 Spinaway as a juvenile in September 2022 at Saratoga Race Course. That season, she added a third in the Grade 1 Frizette next-out and a second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland before a troublesome sophomore campaign of four off-the-board results including in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Davona Dale and the Grade 2 Sands Point here on the turf in October.

Leave No Trace has breezed four times over the Belmont dirt training track since her last effort, most recently completing a half-mile in a sharp 47.90 seconds on May 8, good for second-of-32 works at the distance.

Vegso Racing Stables’ Kentucky homebred Imonra [post 3, Paco Lopez] shortened up in distance to capture a six-furlong optional claiming sprint last-out on April 4 at Gulfstream after finishing off-the-board in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Royal Delta on February 17 there.

Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., the 4-year-old Violence dark bay closed from last-of-6 to complete the successful cutback with a half-length score over dual Grade 3-placed Drifaros. The Royal Delta has also seen second-place finisher Soul of An Angel come to the Big A to upset the Grade 2 Ruffian and fourth-place Tizzy in the Sky subsequently romp to win the Listed Top Flight by nine lengths.

Imonra, out of the stakes-winning Northern Afleet mare Light Bringer, looks to make the grade in her fifth try, her closest attempt being a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks in July at Prairie Meadows.

Rounding out the field is Klaravich Stables’ stakes-placed Asset Purchase [post 4, Manny Franco] for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown. The 4-year-old Dialed In dark bay won her seasonal debut sprinting six furlongs versus local allowance company on April 18 and placed in the one-mile Listed Busher Invitational here as a sophomore.

The Vagrancy is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 11-race card. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.