Handled with confidence by Ramon Dominguez, front-running State of Play repelled the onrushing Optimizer to win the $151,000 With Anticipation Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Saratoga turf Sept. 1 (VIDEO). The 2-year-old son of War Front remained unbeaten in two starts.
With his half-length triumph, State of Play earned a slot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) this November at Churchill Downs as part of the "Win and You're In" challenge series.
Trained by Graham Motion for owner Team Valor International, State of Play was bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm and Dell Hancock. Out of the Procida mare Valeta, the dark bay or brown colt sold for $13,000 at the Keeneland September 2010 yearling sale.
“The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf would probably be the next step for State of Play,” said Brad Weisbord, COO for Team Valor International. “Let’s hope he comes out OK. For exactly what’s next, we’ll leave that up to Graham and his team.”
State of Play was sent off as the narrow 3-1 second choice in a field of nine juveniles. He completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.97 over firm going on the Mellon Turf Course.
Going to the front soon after brushing with Splendiferous at the start, he was well rated by Dominguez as he opened up a 1 1/2-length advantage over 20-1 shot Sportswriter, with Optimizer racing close on the far outside. State of Play maintained a clear edge while rattling off soft fractions of :24.24, :49.78, and 1:14.64 as Optimizer advanced into second ahead of Sportswriter rounding the far turn.
Optimizer, ridden by Robby Albarado, responded when asked in upper stretch and appeared ready to sweep past the pacesetter approaching mid-stretch. But State of Play came under the whip near the eighth pole and took control heading for the wire, holding on for a game win.
The stalking Dullahan finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up, with Julian Leparoux aboard. Captain Webb, the 5-2 choice, saved ground but wound up sixth.
The With Anticipation was State of Play’s first start around two turns, having come from just off the pace to win a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint on July 27 at the Spa.
“He just came back to me so great,” said Dominguez. “(He was) super relaxed. Coming off a 5 ½-(furlong) race, and as quick as we went last time, I couldn’t imagine in his second race for him to be that settled.”
State of Play returned $8, $4.70, and $3.40, with the $90,000 winner’s share of the purse quadrupling his earnings to $120,000.
“The only concern coming off a sprint was whether he was going to relax,” said Adrian Rolls, assistant to Motion. “There was no speed in the race, but Ramon did a really good job.”
Optimizer returned $5.80 and $4, and Dullahan returned $3.70 to show.
Following were Knock Rock, Splendiferous, Captain Webb, Fox Rules, Sportswriter, and Two Months Rent.