Archive for December 2020

Largent Takes Advantage of Fast Pace in Ft. Lauderdale

It can never be said that Largent, the equine athlete, was rushed into graded turf stakes company by trainer Todd Pletcher.

The gelded 4-year-old son of Into Mischief won his March 10, 2019, debut and then spent his next four starts collecting two wins and two seconds in allowance-level races.

This summer, after a four-month break, Pletcher finally tried Largent in a stakes, but that was a trio of two stakes for Virginia-breds (which he won) and the Lure Stakes for horses who had not won a graded stakes (where he was second).

It was after the namesake of famed Seattle Seahawks receiver Steve Largent won the Oct. 9 Bert Allen Stakes for Virginia-breds as a 1-20 favorite that Pletcher decided to tackle the graded stakes runners in the deep end of the pool. He entered Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Largent in the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream Park along with a more accomplished stablemate from a different ownership group in Halladay.

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“He’s always loved Gulfstream. He’s always run well here,” Pletcher said. “He’s been training great. It was the right time to see if he could step up into a big spot.”

Largent was indeed in the right spot at the right time as he benefited most from a brutal pace carved out by Halladay Dec. 12 in the Ft. Lauderdale and rallied from seventh to roll to a two-length victory over Doswell. The 1 1/8-mile test is considered a main steppingstone to the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T) Jan. 23 at Gulfstream.

“It was a very salty field,” Pletcher said. “I think he ran well enough to earn a spot in the Pegasus.”

For Largent, the Ft. Lauderdale was his first race beyond 1 1/16 miles, and though he was sent off at 16-1 odds ($35.80), he surely handled it in a manner that bodes well for his chances of stretching out to 1 3/16 miles in the Pegasus.

“He’s hinted he wanted more ground in his last few races. Between his pedigree and adaptable running style, we don’t feel he has distance limitations,” said Aron Wellman, the founder and president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “We conservatively managed him over the course of his career, some of it forced, some of it by design, but the time had come for an acid test, and he passed it. It’s a credit to Todd. It’s a pleasure to be associated with a horse like this who always tries, and I’m very happy for our Eclipse partners and Steve Davidson and Randy Gullatt of Twin Creeks. Now that he’s a gelding, longevity is the name of the game.”

Largent has six wins and three seconds in nine starts with earnings of $314,470. The son of the Unbridled mare Life in Seattle (hence the name Largent) was bred by Lazy Lane Farms and was brought for $460,000 from the Warrendale Sales consignment at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

He is the first graded stakes winner from his dam’s eight foals to race.

The Ft. Lauderdale had no shortage of speedsters among the field of 10, and the early duel between the top two choices played out as perfectly for Largent as an unguarded post pattern.

In the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF (G1T), Harrell Ventures’ Halladay and Factor This were 1-2 after a half-mile in :46.97 and finished no better than sixth. They reprised those roles in the Ft. Lauderdale with 3-1 second choice Halladay leading 2-1 favorite Factor This by a length after an opening quarter-mile in :23.22 on a turf course labeled good. Halladay maintained that lead to the half-mile pole but had to run faster in the second quarter (:23.12) than he did in the first quarter.

After six furlongs in 1:09.62, the pace caught up with the leaders as Phipps Stable’s Breaking the Rules loomed a major threat from the four path.

Yet outside of him, jockey Paco Lopez had Largent moving fastest of all, and he powered past his rivals to grab a narrow lead at the eighth pole and draw clear in 1:46.16.

“Paco rode him exceptionally well,” Wellman said. “The turn of foot was explosive.”

Joseph Allen’s Doswell, a Giant’s Causeway gelding who saved ground in fourth much of the way, moved up along the rail in the stretch to take second at 15-1 odds for trainer Barclay Tagg by a nose over the Shug McGaughey-trained Breaking the Rules, a son of War Front .

Halladay faded to seventh, with Factor This eighth.

“We’ll assess how (Halladay) comes out of it,” Pletcher said about Halladay’s chances of returning in the Pegasus. “We’ll get them home and evaluate both of them, but we’ll just kind of play it by ear with Halladay. Unfortunately for Halladay, there was so much pace in today’s race. We didn’t want to take away his weapon, but at the same time he was probably doing a little too much early on.”

Largent Helps Pletcher Bag Fourth Win Of Day In Ft. Lauderdale – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Largent put an exclamation point on a four-win afternoon for trainer Todd Pletcher, punching his ticket to next month’s $1-million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) with a come-from-behind victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

The 64th running of the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale for 3-year-olds and up on the grass was the headliner on an 11-race program featuring five stakes, four graded, worth $575,000 in purses including the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3), a prep for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) Jan. 23, won by Tax.

With Paco Lopez aboard for the first time, Largent ($35.80) swept to the lead on the far outside approaching the stretch and outran fellow longshots Breaking the Rules and Doswell late to win by two lengths in 1:46.16 over turf course rated good.

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Since the Pegasus Turf was inaugurated in 2019, the Fort Lauderdale was moved from early January to mid-December to serve as the local stepping-stone to the Pegasus Day event. Eight of the 10 horses in Saturday’s field were stakes winners, six of them in graded company led by millionaire favorite Factor This.

“Very salty field, indeed, and very fast fractions,” Pletcher said. “[Largent] is a horse that’s generally laying up close. I just told Paco, ‘It looks like there’s a lot of pace, just try to sit in the pocket,’ and he delivered a very good ride.”

“One thing is, he’s always loved Gulfstream. He’s always run very well here and we just felt like it was the right time to step up,” he added. “He’d been training great and it was the right time to see if he could step up into a big spot.”

It was the third career stakes win and first in graded company for Largent, who captured a pair of Virginia-bred stakes earlier this year at Colonial Downs and Laurel Park. The 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding has now won four of his five starts at Gulfstream, with one second.

“He’s always run well here and he’s a horse that has shown some talent. This was definitely his toughest task to date but he showed that he likes it here and delivered a big performance,” Pletcher said. “I think he certainly ran well enough today to earn a spot into the Pegasus, which we’d love to do.”

Lopez settled Largent in mid-pack as his Pletcher-trained stablemate, Grade 1 winner Halladay, and Factor This battled dueled on the front end through fractions of 23.22 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.34 for the half, going six furlongs in 1:09.62. Lopez tipped outside after saving ground early and powered through the stretch to cruise past the tiring leaders.

“[Pletcher] said, ‘Paco, there’s a lot of speed, four or five horses. Just go behind them and relax. Figure out where you are and ride your race,’” Lopez said. “He broke well, he came back and he was very comfortable. We came around horses at the top of the stretch and went on.”

Doswell, a winner of his previous two races, came up the rail to edge Breaking the Rules for second. They were followed by graded winners Spooky Channel and Channel Cat, Tide of the Sea, Halladay, Factor This, multiple graded-stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown and French Group 3 winner Delaware.

“There was a little bit of cut [in the ground] and they were certainly going fast enough. The key was that [Largent] was able to settle and relax early on and that allowed him to deliver a big closing kick,” Pletcher said. “Unfortunately for Halladay there was so much pace in today’s race. We didn’t want to take away his weapon, but at the same time he was probably doing a little too much early on.”

Pletcher was the trainer of Channel Cat when he ran 10th of 12 in the most recent edition of the Pegasus Turf, won in an upset by Zulu Alpha.

“With Largent, I think he certainly earned his way in and with Halladay, we’ll assess how he comes out of it,” Pletcher said. “We’ll get them home and evaluate both of them but we’ll just kind of play it by ear with Halladay.”

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