By Richard Rosenblatt
Pletcher’s defending Pegasus Turf champ Colonel Liam already is set for the race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29, likely as the favorite. Largent, edged by a neck by Colonel Liam in last year’s race, has a chance to give it another go depending on his performance in Saturday’s $100,000 Tropical Turf (G3) at Gulfstream.
A 5-year-old gelding by Into Mischief, Largent has not raced in nearly a year. He comes into the Tropical Turf off several strong workouts at Palm Beach Downs and brings an impressive record of six victories and four seconds from 10 career starts into the race.
“We felt like we’re cutting it a little close in terms of how cranked up he is, but with this race being three weeks before the Pegasus Turf it could put us in a position to have some options, so we decided to give it a go,’’ Pletcher said.
“He’s been training well like he always does, and he’s always shown an affinity for the Gulfstream course. He’s always seemed to do well over it,” Pletcher said. “I think it’s a good starting point.”
NYRA’s “America’s Day at the Races” on FOX Sports will broadcast racing on Saturday from 2:30-4 p.m. ET on FS2, then switch for FS1 from 4-5 p.m. TVG will have live racing from tracks around the country.
Here’s a look at the stakes races this weekend (All times are ET):
$100,000 Tropical Turf (G3), mile, 4-year-olds and up
Welcome back, Largent.
The 5-year-old returns to the races for the first time in nearly a year, when he was beaten a neck by stablemate Colonel Liam in the 2021 Pegasus Turf.
Largent, trained by Todd Pletcher, may not be up for a top effort, but he has never finished worse than second in 10 career starts, including a 4-for-6 record at Gulfstream. A solid effort and we’ll likely see him next in the Pegasus Turf on Jan. 29.
$200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2), 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies
Under the Stars, a maiden winner in her third start for trainer Bob Baffert, is the 8-5 favorite in a field of six. Flavien Prat has the mount leaving from the rail.
Trainer John Sadler sends out 9-5 second choice Big Switch, who’s 2-for-2 at Del Mar including a 7-furlong state-bred stakes on Breeders’ Cup Friday. She’s a closer and fits this field well. John Velazquez has the call.
Awake At Midnyte, trained by Doug O’Neil, was nosed by Tezzaray in the 1-mile Jimmy Durante (G3) on turf in November, so this shorter distance makes her a threat at 3-1.
And down the hillside turf they’ll go in the 47th renewal of this former handicap that became a stakes race in 2013.
Zero Tolerance comes in with a stakes win over the course on her resume for trainer Ruben Alvarado.
Lurking in this field of eight are Vladimir Cerin-trained Hear My Prayer and Bob Baffert’s duo of Ginja and Beautiful Gift, and veteran stakes winner Constantia, and the field appears wide open.
The 4-year-old Zero Tolerance stalked the pace and rallied to win the Unzip Me Stakes over this course on Oct. 3. Flavien Prat has the call leaving from post 7.
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.