Eight horses will face the starter in Laurel’s featured event, the Bert Allen Stakes for three-year-olds and up going 1-1/16 miles on this laudable turf course.
If form matters, only two have a serious chance at the top prize; one will be heavily favored to do so, the other has little more than a puncher’s chance, but a possibility nonetheless.
A Todd Pletcher shipper out of New York is odds-on to get his job done. Whether any horse can rightly be rated at 2-5 on the early line is up for debate, but gelded 4-year-old Largent makes a strong case for being worthy.
When last seen in Saratoga, Largent set a moderate, albeit pressured, pace throughout and held for place grimly despite being passed in upper stretch, beaten by the classy Ballagh Rocks’ and his noted late kick, winning the listed Lure.
In his prior he attended the pace from close range and proved to be more effective as the chaser, not the chase-e, taking the restricted Edward P Evans returning from a layup July 29 at Colonial.
Largent is shipping down from his Saratoga base and has drawn the rail in a field of eight, turf ace Trevor McCarthy getting the call.
The only serious challenger we see leaves from the other end of the starting gate, Kendama, at 5-1.
His last effort was a good one. Troubled at the start going 1-5/16 miles over the quirky and demanding Kentucky Downs surface, he made a decisive middle move, the trip and the distance too much to overcome, checking in sixth in a field of 12.
His rally carried him to a threatening third leaving headstretch a length behind but understandably tired, beaten less than five lengths.
The conditioning gained in that heat and Friday’s suitably shorter trip gives him an upset chance, especially since the 3-year-old gets eight pounds from his older rival.
We’ll seek some value and make a straight wager on Kendama to win at 9-2 or more, an exacta box with Largent, and a 50-Cent trifecta: Largent-ALL–Kendama.