09/30/2011 3:36PM

Belmont: Fantastic Song follows up on impressive debut with sharp class rise in Pilgrim


ELMONT, N.Y. – Chad Brown won 22 races during the Saratoga meeting. Few were more impressive than Fantastic Song, who overcame a tough post and wide trip to win his debut by a head going 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Sunday, Fantastic Song makes the always difficult jump from maiden to graded stakes when he faces six fellow 2-year-old colts in the Grade 3, $100,000 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park. While not officially a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, it’s hard to imagine the winner of this race not advancing to that race next month at Churchill Downs.

Fantastic Song is a son of Lemon Drop Kid out of the graded stakes-winning dam Fantastic Shirl, who is a half-sister to graded stakes winners Lady Shakespeare and the brilliant Shakespeare. Breaking from post 10 in his debut, Fantastic Song was last early on under Javier Castellano, before making a wide move around the turn. In the stretch, he was floated out another path or two, but came powering down the lane to outfinish the well-regarded Animal Spirits.

“We liked the horse a lot, but when he drew outside like that and it looked like a decent field on paper, I wasn’t sure he could pull it off,’’ Brown said. “He was very impressive that he overcame all that. We gave him some time off after the maiden win and just pointed him toward this.’’

Fantastic Song will break from post 5 under Castellano.

The horse to beat is State of Play, who did make the jump from maiden winner to Grade 2 stakes winner when he took the With Anticipation by one-half length on Sept. 1. The With Anticipation earned State of Play a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and trainer Graham Motion was looking for a spot to prep him for that race.

State of Play was the controlling speed in the With Anticipation and could play out as such in the Pilgrim. Ramon Dominguez rides from post 6.

“He’s a straightforward horse and is pretty adaptable,’’ Motion said. “He settled well last time for Ramon.’’ Captain Webb, who was the beaten favorite in the With Anticipation, Knock Rock, Fox Rules, Kitten’s Kid, and Shkspeare Shaliyah, complete the field.