Colonial: Largent, Passion Play to tangle in Evans

Reiley McDonald’s Passion Play and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Largent — respective winners of the 2021 and 2020 Edward P. Evans Stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses — will face each other in the ’22 edition Monday July 11 when Colonial Downs presented by Woodford Reserve kicks off its 9-week “More Racing, More Money” meet. 

The Evans is one of four $125,000 turf stakes on the program which also includes the Punch Line, Brookmeade and the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes. First post is 1:45 PM. Eight of the nine flat races will be contested over the Secretariat Turf Course, widest grass racing surface in the country at 180-feet across. The pari-mutuel card will be preceded by two non-betting steeplechase races at 12:15 and 12:50 PM. Parking and general admission are free and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free Secretariat T-Shirt.    

Both Passion Play and Largent followed similar paths in their respective Evans victories. Passion Play won the Bert Allen Stakes in 2021 and Largent prevailed in 2020. 

Passion Play, second early choice at 3-1, is a perfect 3-for-3 at Colonial. The 6-year-old Hold Me Back gelding pocketed $150,000 of his $257,946 career bankroll from the trio. Horacio Karamanos, who rode both stakes victories last summer, will be up Monday for trainer Mary Eppler.     

The consistent Largent, even money betting choice, has six wins and four seconds from only 13 starts and earnings of $504,320. The 6-year-old Into Mischief horse won the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream in 2020 then came up a neck shy in the $1 million Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, also at Gulfstream, in January, 2021. 

Ed Orr and Susie Orr’s Boldor, winner of the 2019 and 2021 Punch Line Stakes, will square off against 2020 winner, Larry Johnson and Bruce Quade’s Embolden, in the 2022 Punch Line at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Boldor is 9-5 early and will be ridden by Feargal Lynch, who was a board for trainer Steve Asmussen in both prior Punch Line wins. The 6-year-old Munnings gelding has $447,096 in earnings from 26 career starts.  

Embolden’s Punch Line victory two years ago came at Laurel after Colonial’s season got cut short. The 5-year-old The Factor horse also captured the 2019 Jamestown Stakes and enters the race with a bankroll of $303,107. The Michael Trombetta trainee is the third early favorite at 4-1, will be ridden by Victor  Carrasco.   

2021 Punch Line runner-up Elusive Mischief, owned by Lothenbach Stables, is second choice at 3-1. The 7-year-old Into Mischief gelding, with $239,398 in earnings, finished second to Boldor in the 2019 edition as well.   

Winchester Place Thoroughbreds’ Urban Fairytale, 2021 Brookmeade Stakes champ, returns to defend her title against six other fillies and mares at 1 1/16th miles. The Ian Wilkes trainee will be ridden by regular jockey Chris Landeros who was atop for last summer’s victory in New Kent. The 5-year-old Distorted Humor mare is the early 9-5 choice and has $140,618 in turf earnings, second only to Susan Cooney’s Fionnbharr’s with $144,857. 

A field of seven will go to post in the $125,000 M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes including Morgan’s Ford Farms’ Strands Of Pearls, who is trained by Brittany Russell and will be ridden by her husband Sheldon — a former Colonial Downs leading jockey who recently returned to action after a ten-month layoff due to injury. The 3-year-old Super Saver filly has won back-to-back races.