Captain Webb heads a field of nine two-year-old thoroughbreds Wednesday as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite in a wide-open edition of the $150,000 With Anticipation Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course.
A tenth entrant, Clip The Coupons, has been entered for the main track only. All of the horses entered in the race have been competing in the maiden ranks and have yet to earn Graded Stakes honors.
In his only race, Captain Webb won his maiden debut by 2½-lengths in an 8½ -furlong turf race at Saratoga on July 30. Captain Webb earned an 88 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort but his final time of 1:45.25 is a bit slow and there are others I like better in this race.
State Of Play, the 5-1 morning line third-choice, is stepping up in class and has never run in a route race but looked impressive winning his maiden debut by 2½-lengths at Saratoga on July 27. State Of Play earned an 88 speed figure for that effort and covered the 5½-furlongs in a sharp 1:02.99.
State Of Play has good speed and he should be able to easily stretch out to 8½-furlongs. I like his pedigree too.
His sire, War Front, also sired Soldat, winner of the 2010 With Anticipation Stakes (G2) and second-place finisher in the 8-furlong Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G2) and 8½-furlong Pilgrim Stakes (G3). Soldat went on as a three-year-old to win the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).
War Front also sired The Factor, a speedy colt who as a two-year-old won the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2) and went on as a three-year-old to win the 8½-furlong Rebel Stakes (G2).
Procida, the damsire of State Of Play, was a Group 1 winner of the 7-furlong Prix de la Foret before he was shipped to America where he won the 1984 edition of the Hollywood Derby (G1) at 8½-furlongs.
State of Play also has a lot of good influence from the tail-female line which traces back to the fifth dam Bourtai – a Matriarch of the Turf. Bourtai is ranked third on Roger Lyons of Pedigree Matters Top 40 Dam Lines of SW’s, 1995 to Present.
Alluvial, the third dam of State Of Play, is also the dam of 1979 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Coastal and the grand dam Aptitude who finished second in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).
Optimizer also comes into the race off of an impressive maiden debut win at Saratoga on August 6. Optimizer trailed at the back of the 10-horse field for most of the race, went six wide on the far turn, and showed an impressive burst of speed in the final furlong to win by a neck.
Optimizer covered the 8½-furlongs in a time of 1:42.67 which is the fastest of all the other horses entered in the race. If Optimizer repeats the form of his last race, he will be competitive.
Optimizer also has a good pedigree.
English Channel, the sire of Optimizer, was the 2007 Eclipse Champion Turf Male and a multiple Graded Stakes winner who was competitive from 10 to 12-furlongs. Belmont Stakes winner and Sire of Sires A. P. Indy is the damsire of Optimizer.
Indy Pick, the dam of Optimizer, was not stakes placed but had had 2-1-1 record in 6 starts. Fantastic Find, the second dam of Optimizer, won the Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap and placed in several other Graded Stakes races.
In his last race, Knock Rock took the early lead and appeared to be in good position to break his maiden when he bolted to the outside on the far turn. Jockey Rajiv Maragh managed to keep him in the race and the pair crossed the finish line in third-place.
The fractions that Knock Rock set in that 8½-furlong turf race were pretty good and if he can repeat that form without blowing the far turn, he should be competitive at a good price.
Two Months Rent (6-1) deserves an honorable mention as he was on only beaten by a half-length to finish third to Optimizer in his last race.