08/30/2011 1:19PM

Saratoga: Two Months Rent fits pattern in With Anticipation Stakes

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Tom Keyser
Captain Webb scored a 2 1/2-length victory in his debut at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Maidens have won four of the first six runnings of the With Anticipation Stakes for juvenile colts and geldings. Of the three maidens entered in Thursday’s seventh renewal of the turf race at Saratoga, Two Months Rent may be best suited to continue that trend.

Two Months Rent, Dullahan, and Knock Rock are all maidens seeking to defeat six winners in the Grade 2, $150,000 With Anticipation scheduled for 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon Turf Course. The winner of the With Anticipation earns an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf run Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Racing schedule, replays, and past winners »

Two Months Rent, a son of Purim trained by Jimmy Toner, enters the With Anticipation off a second-place finish to Finale in a six-furlong race at Belmont in July and a third-place finish, beaten just a half-length by Optimizer, in a two-turn maiden race here Aug. 6. Finale came back to win the Continental Mile at Monmouth Park by 10 1/2 lengths.

“I wanted to get a race into him before we left Belmont because he’s a little green, and it worked out perfect,” Toner said. “The last time he was a little green, he got to the lead a little soon, and he kept waiting on his horses, but he’s really doing well. Let’s face it, the maiden races can be tougher than these races around here.”

Toner is changing riders from Jose Espinoza to Javier Castellano, who entered the final week just one win behind John Velazquez for leading rider.

Todd Pletcher has trained the two With Anticipation winners – Bittel Road and Interactif – that weren’t maidens. On Thursday, he sends out Captain Webb, a 2 1/2-length debut winner over next-out victor Daddy Nose Best. Captain Webb, a son of English Chanel, stalked a modest pace before kicking home strong in the stretch under Velazquez, who has the return call from the rail.

“I thought he ran really well first time, he trained really well leading up to it,” Pletcher said. “It was nice to see the horse that was second to him break his maiden the other day.”

While Captain Webb, Fox Rules, Splendiferous, and Optimizer have all won at the With Anticipation distance, it is noteworthy that the previous six winners of this race were stretching out from sprint distances either on dirt or turf.

State of Play won a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint here July 27 for trainer Graham Motion and Team Valor International. Motion said that State of Play wining first out was not surprising to him, nor is he concerned about stretching the colt out in distance.

“I do think he’ll enjoy stretching out,” Motion said. “He always acted pretty forward ever since he came in. He handled everything and never had a hiccup.”

Motion sent State of Play back to Fair Hill following his maiden win, and he has worked three times in between starts.

Optimizer, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, rallied from well off the pace to defeat Two Months Rent by a half-length. He will have to deal with the outside post in this nine-horse field.

Splendiferous was sold privately to owner Jake Ballis and transferred to trainer Steve Margolis following a debut win here when in the barn of Mark Casse.