The Lineup: Largent Returns in Tropical Turf; Baffert Strong in 2 Stakes at Santa Anita

By Richard Rosenblatt

Todd Pletcher – Photo Courtesy Of Brien Bouyea

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher could be looking at a possible 1-2 repeat in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in three weeks.

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.

Largent’s only graded stakes win came in the 2020 Fort Lauderdale (G2), and he has four victories and two seconds at Gulfstream.

“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):

Gulfstream Park new Tapeta surface – Photo courtesy of Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson / BloodHorse



$100,000 Tropical Turf (G3), mile, 4-year-olds and up

Post time: 3:37 p.m. (race 8)

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.

A long freshening has him training well, and he’s the 9-5 second choice in a field of seven, breaking from the rail under Gulfstream meet leader Luis Saez.

Value Proposition is the 8-5 favorite for trainer Chad Brown, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard now that his 30-day suspension ended a few days ago.

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.

Value Proposition comes in off a fifth in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship but won his two starts prior in the Oyster Bay Stakes at Belmont and the Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth.


Santa Anita Park – Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita Park



$200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2), 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies

Post time: 7:06 p.m. (race 8)

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.


$200,000 Las Cienegas Stakes (G2), 6 furlongs, turf, 4 and up fillies and mares

Post time: 6:30 p.m. (race 7)

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.

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