Largent, Passion Play Set to Square Off In $125,000 Edward P Evans Stakes Monday at Colonial Downs

(NEW KENT, VA — 7/7/2022) — 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.

Passion Play (inside) captures the 2021 Edward P. Evans Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

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.

Largent in the winners circle after his Bert Allen Stakes victory in October 2020. Photo by Jim McCue.

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 won the Punch Line at Colonial in 2019. (Coady Photography)

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.

Urban Fairytale was best in the 2021 Brookmeade Stakes in New Kent (Coady Photography)

Fionnbharr was stakes placed three different times last summer during the 7-week meet. The 6-year-old Exchange Rate mare was second in the Nellie Mae Cox and third in the Van Clief and Brookmeade Stakes.

Larry Johnson’s Continentalcongres, runner up in the 2021 Jamestown, has been very consistent in 2022. The 3-year-old Constitution filly has finished in the “top three” in six of seven starts including a maiden special weight score at Laurel in April. The second early choice at 3-1 will be ridden by Jaime Rodriguez.
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.

Top money earning horse in the field is Nicholas Cammarano’s Still Alive with a bankroll of $167,942 and fresh off a 6-furlong claiming win at Parx. The 5-year-old Midshipman mare was bred by Daybreak Stables.

Sam English’s Chambeau is a 5-year-old daughter of Japan-bred Karakontie and will be making her career bow with Colonial’s all-time leading rider Horacio Karamanos in the irons. Anthony Aguirre, Jr. trains the mare, who is coming off three solid works.

A pair of $70,000 allowance races, one dirt and one turf, highlight opening day’s under card.

The 1 1/16th miles grass race features a field of ten fillies and mares, led by Heider Family Stables’ Flown, a Brendan Walsh trainee that has a win and four seconds in five turf outings. The 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy filly is the 8-5 morning line favorite and will have Feargall Lynch in the irons.

Ham Smith, Colonial Downs 2021 leading trainer, is pictured with Racing Secretary Allison DeLuca.

Noteable conditioners with horses in the turf allowance include 2021 leading trainer Hamilton Smith (Witty Banter), 2019 leading trainer Michael Stidham (Pearl Earring) and Colonial’s all-time leading trainer Ferris Allen (Nicolar).

Big E Stables’ Sacred Samurai is 3-1 choice in the 7-furlong Optional Allowance/Claimer that features a deep 11-horse field. The 3-year-old First Samurai colt dominated a $100,000 maiden special weight at Keeneland April 29, winning by 5 1/2 lengths. Jevian Toldeo will ride for trainer Joe Sharp.

Colonial’s 2022 meet will continue thru September 7 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. The track will feature a daily Pick-5 wager on the final five races with a low 12% takeout. The bet will offer a carryover aspect for the first time ever. All races will be broadcast on TVG.

Showcase event of a $3.5 million stakes schedule is the 19th running of the $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (Gr. 3) on Tuesday September 6. The Derby under card features five additional stakes including the $200,000 Woodford Reserve Virginia Oaks.