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State of Play tries to stay unbeaten in Pilgrim

Grade 2 With Anticipation victor State of Play squares off against six colts in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at 1 1/16th miles on the turf for 2-year-olds.

Campaigned by Team Valor International and trained by H. Graham Motion, State of Play is undefeated, stretching out successfully from a 5 ½-furlong turf maiden victory at Saratoga Race Course on July 27 to take the 1 1/16-mile With Anticipation on September 1. The latter was a Breeders' Cup Challenge race, guaranteeing the son of War Front a spot in the gate for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Churchill Downs.

"He's done great and everything has gone to plan," said Motion from his base at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. "He's a straightforward horse and is pretty adaptable. He settled well last time for Ramon [Dominguez]. We already have our ticket to the Breeders' Cup, and this race was the closest to our home."

Dominguez controlled the pace aboard State of Play in the With Anticipation and has the return call for Sunday's race. The pair will leave from post position 6 as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

Also exiting the With Anticipation is Captain Webb, who finished sixth as the favorite in the field of nine.

"It was a very disappointing performance," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Captain Webb's With Anticipation. "He kind of got stuck inside and shuffled back in a paceless race, and he lacked room in the stretch to give his best effort. We're hoping for a better set-up and a better trip."

A son of 2007 Breeders' Cup Turf winner English Channel, whom Pletcher also trained, Captain Webb broke his maiden on July 30 at Saratoga in a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden race. Like his sire, the ridgling is campaigned by James Scatuorchio.

Captain Webb drew the rail for the Pilgrim, the same post position he had in the With Anticipation, and John Velazquez will be back aboard the 7-2 third choice on the morning line.

Stepping into stakes company for the first time in the Pilgrim is Dell Ridge Farm's Fantastic Song, a son of Lemon Drop Kid who got up just in time under Javier Castellano to break his maiden on August 20 at the Spa. After dropping back to last in the field of 10 for the 1 1/16-mile turf race, Fantastic Song swung five wide into the stretch and dashed home to win by a head.

Fantastic Song drew post 5 and trainer Chad Brown again will give a leg up to Castellano aboard the 5-1 morning-line fourth choice.

Another late-running maiden winner, Shkspeare Shaliyah, will get his first stakes test in the Pilgrim. Sent out by Doodnauth Shivmangal to a solid third-place effort in a turf maiden at Saratoga on August 27, the son of Shakespeare got up by a half-length to win his second start on September 18 at Belmont. Tabbed as the 3-1 morning-line second choice, Shkspeare Shaliyah gets the services of Alex Solis from post 7.

Completing the field in the Pilgrim from the rail out are maiden Knock Rock, fourth in the With Anticipation and third behind Shkspeare Shaliyah in his most recent start; Fox Rules, seventh in the With Anticipation; and Kitten's Kid, neck winner of a Saratoga turf maiden on September 3.

The field for the Grade 3, $100,000 Pilgrim:








Captain Webb (KY)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Knock Rock (KY)

R Maragh


S M Schwartz



Fox Rules (NY)

J A Grabowski


M A Ferraro



Kitten's Kid (KY)

J L Castanon


M R Scherer



Fantastic Song (KY)

J Castellano


C C Brown



State of Play (KY)

R A Dominguez


H G Motion



Shkspeare Shaliyah (FL)

A O Solis


D Shivmangal





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