Pedigree Price Play at Saratoga for July 17

Horses race through the stretch in front of a cheering crowd at Saratoga Race Course in this file photo. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

Today’s #Pedigeek “Word of the Weekend” is:


As defined by Merriam-Webster:

1: exceptionally early in development or occurrence

2: exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age

The very first thing that one should look for when analyzing a 2-year-old race at this point in year is a horse who hails from a precocious family. A star-studded pedigree easily entices, but the wow-factor is relative. A horse whose family consistently produces runners who can win at 2, even if they don’t go on to become world-beaters, is a better play — especially at a sprint distance — than one whose relations need a bit of time to get rolling but become Grade 1 winners once they have a chance to physically mature.

Most eyes, understandably, will be on Montauk Point, whose pedigree is both luminous and precocious, in the fifth race Saturday, July 17 at Saratoga Race Course. He’s a half-brother (same dam [mother]) to 2019 champion 3-year-old filly and champion female sprinter Covfefe. Covfefe won her debut by 9 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old, and Montauk Point’s third dam (great-grandmother), Althea, was 1983 Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly. Furthermore, Montauk Point’s sire is Violence, who won his 2-year-old debut at Saratoga.

Montauk Point brought $550,000 as a yearling at auction, and now you better understand why. He’s very likely to go off at a short price. With that in mind, I turn my attention to Seal Beach, despite the fact that, at 1, he only sold for $75,000. This is certainly worthy of concern, however, right now, we’re not looking for a horse to romp in a Grade 1 race but simply one who can win at first asking. I really like the nice series of four five-furlong drills on the workout tab, which make me believe he is nice and fit to throw down to the end.

Seal Beach is by 2008 champion 2-year-old male Midshipman, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and is the son of another Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victor in 1995 winner Unbridled’s Song. Midshipman was a debut winner sprinting 5 ½ furlongs at Del Mar, and Unbridled’s Song wired the field going three-quarters of a mile at first asking at Saratoga, crossing the finish line 8 1/2 lengths in front.

Seal Beach is the first foal produced by his dam, Fairway Luck. She was unraced, but her sire (father), Union Rags, won his debut at 2 sprinting five furlongs ahead of a 7 ¼-length romp in the slop in the 2011 edition of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes. He then won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and came up just a head short in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Fairway Luck’s half-sister R Free Roll got the win in her second start during her 2-year-old season, and she went on to become a multiple stakes-winning sprinter. R Free Roll counts the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Stakes among her victories. Seal Beach’s maternal grandmother, Jewels N Gems, was also both precocious and fast as a debut winner who went on to win the Lightning City and Bob Slater Stakes. As for Seal Beach’s great-grandmother, Saratoga Campaign, she didn’t do much on the racetrack, but her sire, multiple graded-stakes winner Mt. Livermore, has been a great source of speed, and her mother (Seal Beach’s fourth dam), Saratoga Sizzle, proved aptly named and was triumphant in her career debut as a 2-year-old at Saratoga. She went on to finish third in the Grade 2 Adirondack and Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes and later became a stakes winner in her 3-year-old season.

With a pedigree that has produced consistent, precocious runners who can win early sprinting and go on to contest stakes competition, Seal Beach looks like a major player in the fifth race Saturday at Saratoga despite what her auction price-tag suggests. Let’s just hope we get a nice price on the tote ourselves.

Saturday, July 17

Saratoga Race Course, Race 5, Maiden Special Weight Race, 2-year-olds, 5 ½ furlongs, 3:23 p.m. ET

#2 Seal Beach

Owner: Three Diamonds Farm

Trainer: Mike Maker

Jockey: Javier Castellano

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