LARGENT OVERWHELMING CHOICE IN BERT ALLEN STAKES
Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Largent, never worse than second in seven career starts, is the overwhelming favorite to add another stakes win to his resume in Friday’s $75,000 Bert Allen at Laurel Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Bert Allen for 3-year-olds and up is the fourth of five $75,000 turf stakes restricted to Virginia-bred/sired horses on Laurel’s nine-race program. First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
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Laurel last hosted the Virginia-bred stakes in 2018 before they returned to Colonial Downs last summer. The first round of stakes were held in July before the meet was canceled due to a number of coronavirus positives.
“We feel very fortunate that after Colonial got canceled and the second batch of Virginia-bred stakes had to be tabled that they were gracious enough to bring them back and run them at Laurel,” Eclipse founder and president Aron Wellman said. “We are taking advantage of his Virginia-bred status, hopefully. He won the stake at Colonial early in the meet there. We had intended to go back to run in the second stake and we’re just glad to get the opportunity on Friday.”
Largent, a gelded 4-year-old son of top sire Into Mischief who fetched $460,000 as a yearling in September 2017, drew Post 1 in a field of eight and is listed as the 2-5 program favorite. Leading rider Trevor McCarthy is named to ride for seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Unraced at 2, Largent debuted with a front-running maiden special weight romp last March at Gulfstream Park. He was beaten a neck by subsequent Grade 3 winner Eons in an open allowance against his elders on the 2019 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) undercard at Pimlico Race Course, then didn’t start back until Jan. 19, a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream.
Largent raced twice more during the 2019-2020 Championship Meet before the coronavirus pandemic stalled racing across the country, returning to win the one-mile Edward P. Evans Stakes July 29 at Colonial. Last out he was second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, in the 1 1/16-mile Lure Stakes Sept. 7 at Saratoga.
“He’s been a hard-luck horse. We’ve had to start and stop with him, not for anything major just little sort of hiccups along the way, but nevertheless he’s never run a bad race,” Wellman said. “He’s a stakes winner, he’s stakes-placed. He always goes out and runs hard for us. He’s such a cool horse. We gelded him last year so longevity’s the name of the game. Being able to shop around for spots like the one on Friday is sort of our M.O. to keep him hopefully in the win column.”
Two of Largent’s three losses have come over turf courses listed as good, beaten a head and a neck, respectively. Among the competition are 2018 Bert Allen and Hansel winner River Deep; Black Prong, third in the Edward Evans; and Divine Interventio, an eight-time career winner of $354,644 in purse earnings.
“He’s certainly shown up everywhere. The one thing that I think could be a thorn in his side is if it gets a little too soft out there, but it looks like the weather should be good through Friday we’re hoping. So, with the firm ground he ought to be just fine,” Wellman said.
“He’s a racehorse. He shows up every time. He’s such a cool dude. He used to be very speed-oriented, and I think he’s still got speed, but as he’s matured – and Todd’s just done such a great job developing him methodically and being patient over the years – he’s shown other dimensions where he’s capable of stalking or tucking in just off the pace and he seems to be equally effective,” he added. “He’s a gamer. Hopefully we can get the job done on Friday.”
Other stakes on Friday’s program are the M. Tyson Gilpin for fillies and mares 3 and older, Jamestown for 2-year-olds and Punch Line for 3-year-olds and up, all at 5 ½ furlongs; and the 1 1/16-mile Brookmeade for fillies and mares 3 and up.