09/04/2009 12:00AM

Local colts stepping up for Kent


Dr Large and Colonel Rutledge, a pair of locally based 3-year-old colts stepping up to graded stakes company for the first time, will try to topple several more accomplished stakes performers in Saturday's Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park.

The Kent, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf, drew a field of seven 3-year-olds. The field is headed by Laureate Conductor, coming off a third in the Grade 1 Secretariat, and the trio of Al Khali, No Inflation, and Out at Night - who finished within 2 1/4 lengths of each other last time out in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

The potential spoilers are Dr Large, who has been first or second in all three starts since he was switched to turf, and Colonel Rutledge, who is 2 for 2 on grass, including a wire-to-wire win over older horses in his most recent race.

Trainer Larry Jones hopes that Dr Large, a son of A.P. Indy, is peaking after back-to-back wins in a high-priced optional claimer locally and a neck decision in the $75,000 Capital City Stakes at Penn National.

"He has taken to the turf well," Jones said. "Hopefully, he is still improving and A.P. Indys seem to get a little better with age. We are just going to keep our fingers crossed and hope we are good enough to get the job done."

Colonel Rutledge, a stakes winner on dirt at 2, earned a shot at the Kent Stakes by defeating older horses by 3 3/4 lengths on Aug. 9 at Laurel Park.

"He is really doing well, and I think this is a great opportunity for him," trainer Graham Motion said. "He is a very consistent horse, and it was great to get him in a nice spot last time where he really got a confidence builder."

Colonel Rutledge could help soothe the sting of Motion's beaten favorite, Deal Maker, in the 2008 Kent.

Laureate Conductor, trained by Christophe Clement, is listed as the 3-2 favorite on the track's morning line after rallying between horses to finish third over soft, tiring turf in the Secretariat at Arlington. Although Clement is 0 for 6 locally this year, his horses have gone 7 for 26 in Delaware turf routes the last five years, according to DRF's Formulator.

Of the three runners exiting the Hall of Fame, a race run in stakes-record time, Al Khali did best, finishing third despite having to steady in the stretch. He will be making his second start since coming to Bill Mott's barn. Mott won the 2005 Kent when Seeking the Slew was moved up two places on a double disqualification.