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Seekman On 'Flip Flop,' Two-Year-Olds

Published: November 12, 2009 1:48 pm ET

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When can going against your instincts be a good thing? When you find a broodmare that is in foal, you decide to purchase her for $900, and the foal she is carrying winds up turning into a six-figure earner in her first season on the track.

Such was the case when Tina Seekman, wife of trainer Joe Seekman, ventured to Ohio and returned home to the family farm in Michigan with the broodmare Gails A Crombie in tow. Out of an Abercrombie mare, Gails A Crombie was in foal to Jennas Beach Boy, which was about the only thing that interested the veteran conditioner as his wife showed him their newest acquisition.

“Tina went to Ohio to look at some horses at a sale and wound up coming back with this broodmare,” explained Seekman. “She knows I don’t really like broodmares, so after she reads off the mare's pedigree, I made a wisecrack and told her at least she picked one with the right cross.”

A longtime fan of country singer Kenny Chesney, the resulting foal was named Flip Flop Summer by Tina in honour of the singer’s 2007 tour, and she has definitely warmed the hearts of her connections by posting four wins, one second and one third through her first nine career starts.

While training down, Flip Flop Summer did nothing to distinguish herself from the others Seekman had been preparing for their debuts, but the shrewd judge of young talent was impressed by the way the big filly handled the half-mile training oval at his farm.

“She was just an average horse as she went along, but the one thing that kept catching my eye was how handy she was for being as big as she is,” said Seekman. “She cruised right around our half-mile training track and that’s why I also have high hopes for her next year because some of those big three-year-old races go on half-mile tracks.”

The filly made her career debut at Balmoral Park in a division of the Hanover Stakes on July 18 and finished second behind the fine Illinois-bred Fox Valley Oracle in a snappy 1:53.4. Her first win would come a week later, as she hit the wire in 1:55.4, including a :27.3 final quarter, with Seekman’s son Travis in the bike.

Since then, Flip Flop Summer has posted victories in the $197,900 Kentuckiana Stakes at Indiana Downs, as well as a wins in a division of the Simpson Stakes and a late closer at the Red Mile, the latter of which produced her career mark of 1:53.2. Saturday’s American National will be her last 'dance' of the season.

“I never like to over-race the babies,” explained Seekman. “She’s had a wonderful season for us and she’s been going strong since July, which is plenty for her. She started her season at Balmoral and she’ll end it there. Plus I believe she’ll fill out even more and hopefully be a very nice three-year-old for us next season.”

Seekman Looking For 'Trifecta' In 2yo Colt Pace

It will be a case of 'strength in numbers' for Sawgrass Farms and trainer Joe Seekman in Saturday’s $180,000 American National Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, as they send out a trio of highly regarded youngsters in Perrito Caliente, Morgan Shark and Four Starz trace to square off against six other freshmen.

Perrito Caliente has drawn the inside starting spot among the field of nine, and that figures to put this speedball in a perfect spot. A model of consistency in his first season of action, the gelded son of Art Major was a $40,000 yearling purchase at the Lexington Select Sale in 2008.

Since making his debut in mid-July, Perrito Caliente has put together a record of 2-3-2 in eight starts. His biggest victory came in a division of the Review Stakes in Springfield and his career mark of 1:55.2 was taken at Balmoral Park. He was also second in the Fox Stakes at Indianapolis and the Bluegrass at the Red Mile this year.

“He’s a fast colt and we really think he’s going to come back even better as a three-year-old,” said Seekman. “Naturally I would have liked to have had another race in him since Kentucky, but he did qualify very nicely and he has trained well leading up to this start.”

Stablemate Morgan Shark was a private purchase in September of 2008 by owner Jim Jesk and the good looking son of Four Starzzz Shark certainly looks like a wise investment with five wins three seconds through his first eight career starts. Although a bit on the small side, Morgan Shark has shown that he has a big engine and there is no quit in him according to Seekman.

“I was a little concerned about his size when he came to us,” explained Seekman. “Once we started training him down with the others in the spring though he showed us right away that we weren’t going to have to worry about him holding his own with the bigger colts.”

His sharpest effort came at the Meadows back on September 3 when he destroyed a field of two-year-olds in a Keystone Classic Stake by more than eight lengths while stopping the clock in a blistering 1:52.3. The bay gelding also owns victories in the $64,120 Fox Stakes (1:52.4) and a late closer at the Red Mile (1:54.2).

Four Starz Trace has also put up some very nice numbers in his first season of racing with two wins, one second and three thirds.

Plucked out of the 2008 Harrisburg sale for $32,000, this altered son of Western Hanover is out of the Cams Card Shark mare Four Starzzzz Hope.

“We definitely picked him out because of his breeding,” said Seekman’s wife, Tina, who has a keen eye for horse flesh. “He is out of the same cross as Annieswesterncard who is in tonight’s three-year-old colt pace. After the season that he had as a two-year-old we definitely wanted to get another one with that type of breeding.”

Four Starz Trace was ready to roll right out of the box stopping the clock in 1:53.4 while making his career debut a winning one in a division of the Hanover Stakes at Balmoral Park in July. His second career victory came on September 3, as he tripped the timer in a career best of 1:53.1 while taking a $33,950 division of the Keystone Classic at the Meadows.

While all three of these youngsters have enjoyed success this year, Seekman thinks that even bigger and better things are in store for the trio next year.

“They all trained down very nicely in the spring and they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them this year,” he said. “With some time off over the winter to grow into their bodies and mature, I really believe that all three of them have the potential to be great three-year-olds for us.”


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