Team Valor International won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with Pluck last year.
The owners have an opportunity to go back to that race this year, after State of Play won the Grade II With Anticipation at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday.
The race is an automatic qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup through the “Win and You’re In” series.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez said he was pleasantly surprised to find State of Play willing to rate on the lead down the backstretch in the mile-and-a-sixteenth With Anticipation.
That put State of Play in position to hold off Optimizer by a half-length, as Dullahan was third under Julien Leparoux in place of Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux.
Desormeaux was not allowed to ride for the day by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board after being arrested for reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, for a traffic incident involving a track security guard on Wednesday
State of Play brushed with Splendiferous at the start, but otherwise avoided traffic by accelerating into the lead in a comfortable 24.24 for the quarter-mile, 49.78 for the half and 1:14.64 for three-quarters.
“He was super-relaxed,” Dominguez said. “Coming off a 51⁄2 [furlong] race, I couldn’t imagine for him to be that settled. From the gate, he had his ears forward and he was very relaxed.”
“There was no speed in the race, but Ramon did a really good job,” said Adrian Rolls, assistant to trainer Graham Motion. “He was really happy with him. He said as soon as he got out in front, he just switched off and slowed it down perfectly.”
State of Play made his career
debut a winning one in a turf sprint at Saratoga on July 27. He stalked a quick pace early, then motored to the front and won by 21⁄2 lengths.
On Thursday, he took the lead right away by default in what appeared
to be a paceless race on paper, and the With Anticipation lived up to that once the gate opened.
The tricky part for Dominguez on the significant distance stretch-out was to keep State of Play from trying to run away with it and preserve something for the finish.
Optimizer, ridden by Robby
Albarado, closed well on the outside, but couldn’t get there.
Dullahan was another length and a quarter back.
“He came back to me so great,” Dominguez said. “He was basically doing whatever I asked him to do. When the horse came to him, he was sort of looking for it. He was so off the bridle that I felt for a second I was a little concerned that he got the jump on him, but I barely tapped him, and he wasn’t going to let him get by him.”
Now, Team Valor can start thinking about the Breeders’ Cup again.
“We’re really excited for Team Valor and its partners — our 13th stakes win of the year,” Team Valor chief operating officer Brad Weisbord said. “The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf would probably be the next step for State of Play. Let’s hope he comes out OK. For exactly what’s next, we’ll leave that up to Graham and his team. They did a wonderful job with this horse, getting him to stretch out from
51⁄2 furlongs to 1 1-16 miles.”
Desormeaux was scheduled to ride two horses on the card, but Weekend Wish was scratched from the sixth, and he wasn’t allowed to ride Dullahan in the With Anticipation.
He was arrested around
6:30 p.m. on Wednesday for allegedly running his Porsche at a NYRA security guard who was directing traffic as patrons were leaving the track on Union Avenue.
Desormeaux was jailed by Saratoga Springs police for about an hour, and was released after posting $500 bail.
“The stewards made a decision
that Mr. Desormeaux would not be riding today, based on the events of the last 24 hours,” New York State Racing and Wagering Board spokesman Lee Park said. “I couldn’t speculate as to what’s
going to happen tomorrow
[today]. At this point, it’s just today. I wouldn’t describe it as a suspension, and I don’t think I would necessarily describe it as a cooling-off day. Beyond the fact that he’s not riding today, I don’t have much more comment.”
Desormeaux is scheduled to go back to court on Tuesday.
He was also fined $500 by the racing and wagering board for misuse of the whip in winning the seventh race on Monday aboard Need an Angel.
He has one mount scheduled
today, Free Entry in the third.
Park said Desormeaux was not tested for drugs or alcohol.