Marcus Hersh Jul 27, 2020
Colonial Downs racing officials were excited to learn that trainer Todd Pletcher, who didn’t start a horse during Colonial’s 2019 racing season, its first in six years, would be shipping runners to Virginia from New York this summer. Horsemen racing at Colonial surely were less enthused, and Pletcher on Wednesday sends out a 400-pound gorilla named Largent in the $60,000 Edward P. Evans Stakes.
Largent is listed at odds of 9-5 for the Evans, a one-mile grass race restricted to Virginia-breds, though flopping the digits in his morning line would produce a more likely post-time price. Largent, who drew the rail in a seven-horse field, has made five starts in his career, all of them good ones.
Three times first and twice second, Largent won his debut and has needed only two tries to clear both his first and second allowance conditions while facing far, far stronger foes than he meets Wednesday. One mile or thereabouts is his trip, he has controllable but very useful speed, and has logged a slew of recent works readying for his first start since March 28.
Four-year-old Largent, by Into Mischief, carries 123 pounds, only two more than 3-year-old Embolden, who is 2-1 on the morning line. Embolden romped in a maiden race and won the Jamestown Stakes turf-sprinting on the Colonial course last summer, but he hasn’t started since a commendable third-place finish in the $400,000 Springboard Mile last December and is no sure thing to stay a route of ground.
River Deep and Black Prong finished second and third, respectively, in the 2019 Evans, but it’s Black Prong coming into this renewal with the far more encouraging form.
Mike Stidham trains Embolden, who faces the formidable favorite in the Evans, but it’s Stidham who trains the likely odds-on choice, Tan and Tight, in the $60,000 Camptown, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint restricted to Virginia-bred fillies and mares. Tan and Tight, owned by Bob Edwards’ e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (their stable star is Rushing Fall), has only one win from seven starts, but all of her races have come in open company and every one of her five tries on the turf look good enough to win the Camptown.
Tan and Tight broke through the gate before her most recent race, a first-level turf-sprint allowance at Monmouth, and wound up farther off the pace than usual while making her first start for Stidham, but she rallied gamely to miss by a head and can more closely attend the lead Wednesday evening.
Belle Aurora, second against males last summer at Colonial in the restricted Jamestown, another turf sprint, looks like the main competition.
◗ In addition to Largent, Pletcher has Farmington Road entered on the Wednesday card at Colonial. A mild Triple Crown hope this year, with fourth-place finishes in the Risen Star and Arkansas Derby, and a close second in the Oaklawn Stakes, Farmington Road makes his turf debut in race 3, a first-level allowance race over 1 3/16 miles. Farmington Road is by Quality Road, who can get a grass runner, and out of Silver La Belle, a turf horse herself and a sister to the graded stakes-class grass-marathon performer Silverfoot.