09/01/2011 9:05AM

Saratoga: Spa Babies for Sept. 1, Race 9


Welcome to Spa Babies! I'll break down the statistics for every juvenile contest at the meet and hope for a tidy profit.

In past years, I would list the stats for each horse before writing up my analysis, selections and wagering strategy. In order to streamline the content, this year's Spa Babies will showcase written analyses of each juvenile race. Each analysis will include relevant statistical information. Following the analysis, top three selections and wagering strategy will be provided.

Race 9
1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
With Anticipation Stakes (Grade 2)
Purse $150,000

CAPTAIN WEBB, from the first crop of turf champion English Channel, uncorked a strong three wide bid to take over the lead on the far turn of his well-meant debut.  He kept to his task smartly in the stretch to outfinish next-out winner Daddy Nose Best (graduated on grass with a 72 Beyer) and has the tactical speed to work out a good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip for powerhouse connections.

DULLAHAN, a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, is still a maiden, but he improved dramatically when stretched out in distance for his turf debut on August 13.  He pressed the slow tempo set by the eventual winner and tried hard all the way to the wire.  He shows a quick half-mile breeze in preparation for this start and shouldn't be too far off the early leaders.

SPLENDIFEROUS owes a great deal of thanks to KNOCK ROCK as that one looked on his way to victory before bolting on the final turn of a $75,000 maiden claimer here on August 11.  That opened the way for Splendiferous to inherit the lead and he went on to win in fast time (earned this field's best Beyer Speed Figure).  It looks like Splendiferous was purchased privately after that race and he'll make his first start for high-percentage trainer Steve Margolis.

STATE OF PLAY looked good winning his career debut going 5 1/2 furlongs for trainer Graham Motion and his young sire's progeny generally do better with more experience and distance. Of the five runners to return from that July 27 maiden heat, however, only one returned to crack the trifecta next-out (in a $15,000 maiden claimer on dirt).

TWO MONTHS RENT was no match for next-out Continental Mile hero Finale (78 Beyer, won by over ten) in his career debut going six furlongs at Belmont and he gave another good try in his initial two-turn start earlier in the meet.  He was no match for OPTIMIZER, however, and needs to move forward if he is to win this tougher heat.

SPORTSWRITER looked in deep water during the stretch drive of his career debut, but he was the one to benefit when the favored pacesetter drifted terribly in the lane.  Sportswriter, himself, was a bit green and he'll have to improve as he stretches out against open company.

OPTIMIZER rallied down the center of the track to post an upset victory over Two Months Rent for trainer Wayne Lukas. Like the top pick, he is by English Channel.  Optimizer figures to be taken back by Robby Albarado in order to save some ground.  He'll need pace and race luck rallying from off the pace.

KNOCK ROCK was bet hard with the addition of blinkers on August 11, but he blew the second turn and that likely cost him the win.  He still was able to finish third despite racing close to the outside fence.  Knock Rock has ability and could wind up the main pacesetter here, but he'll have to mind his manners.

FOX RULES upset statebred maidens in his turf and route debut on August 20.  A well-bred sort, he will face steeper competition here.
CLIP THE COUPONS, a good-figure debut winner here on the main track, looms the main threat if this race is washed to the dirt.

1. Captain Webb
2. Dullahan
3. Splendiferous

The Play:
Captain Webb - Dullahan Exacta
Captain Webb - Splendiferous Exacta