ELMONT, NY – Donegal Racing’s Seabhac picked a memorable time to break his maiden, repelling a pair of strong-closing juveniles late to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park.
After much of the field bumped into one another at the start, Seabhac moved forward into second under rider Luis Saez while Looking Ready set early fractions of :24.61, :49.51, and 1:13.77. Heading into the stretch off of the far turn, Seabhac closed in on the leader, took command at the 1/8 pole, then repelled late bids from Voting Control and Maraud in the shadow of the wire to complete the 1 1/16-mile turf event in a final time of 1:43.48.
“It was just a good trip,” Saez said. “It was pretty exciting. He broke pretty good. He was right there, and when I asked him at the 3/8, he just took off. When he came into the stretch, he was running. I can’t wait to ride him next time.”
Voting Control won the photo finish for second by a neck over Maraud, with the pair finishing a 1/2 length behind the winner. Looking Ready faded to fourth, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Morrison, with Stolen Pistol, Evaluator, and Desert Stone completed the order of finish.
The Todd Pletcher-trained 2-year-old son of Scat Daddy debuted on August 5 at Saratoga, finishing second, before entering and finishing fourth in the Grade 3 With Anticipation. Despite not having made a trip to the winner’s circle in his first two starts, Pletcher wasn’t afraid of his colt’s chances in the Pilgrim.
“I think blinkers and experience, a combination of those things, helped,” Pletcher said. “He ran good races both times at Saratoga. He just encountered a little bit of traffic, especially in his first start. He seems like a talented colt who is still figuring it out. We were hoping he would break a little more alert and put himself in a good spot. If you watch the replay of the With Anticipation, he got stopped pretty hard at the 1/4 pole and it was kind of an impossible spot to rally from, but he still closed well. Johnny (Velazquez, the jockey for Seabhac’s first two starts) just said if we use blinkers, he should have a little more confidence, and he was right.”
Seabhac returned $12.80 to win, $4.70 to place, and $2.90 to show. Voting Control brought back $3.10 to place and $2.30 to show, while Maraud paid $2.90 to show.