Well-bred horses who begin their careers with an eye-catching debut win can generate plenty of excitement, but just because one was well-beaten on that first visit to the racecourse does not mean that they are not destined to become leading Group 1 contenders within the next few months.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old The Pentagon is a good example and, in an interesting coincidence, one of the horses who was beaten by a long way the day he won his maiden on fast ground at the Curragh is his Ballydoyle team-mate and exciting Grade 1 star Mendelssohn. Needless to say, the latter has improved by a massive amount since that 16 and a quarter-length defeat.
The Pentagon won by eight and a half lengths that day in mid-July, sent off the stable's second string of three, ridden by leading apprentice Ana O'Brien, and soon to become the ante-post favourite for 2018's Group 1 Investec Derby.
A month before it had been he who was the well-beaten debutant, finishing a 19 and a quarter-length sixth behind runaway first-timer and subsequent Group 1 star Verbal Dexterity over the same course and distance, but on soft ground.
Just 12 days after his maiden success, he stayed-on well to beat Theobald by one and three-quarter lengths in the Group 3 JRA Tyros Stakes on good ground at Leopardstown, but it was three months before he was seen in action again, this time finishing third to Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a furlong farther at Doncaster, with old rival Verbal Dexterity three-parts of a length back in fourth.
The Pentagon, whom Timeform rated 114p in 2017, is due to make his seasonal reappearance in the Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown tomorrow where his rivals include talented stablemates Nelson and Delano Roosevelt, both of whom also have the potential to reach the top.
He was bred by the famous Irish farm Barronstown Stud, he is a son of Coolmore Stud's phenomenal stallion Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) and he is out of the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary winner Vadawina (by Unfuwain), which makes him inbred 3x3 to the dynasty-maker Northern Dancer (by Nearctic).
His siblings include the Group 1-placed Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris winner Vadamar (by Dalakhani) and pattern-placed stakes winner Vedouma (by Dalakhani), and his dam is a half-sister to Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary scorer Vazira (by Sea The Stars) and also to dual 10-furlong Group 3 winner Vadapolina (by Trempolino). The latter is the dam of Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) runner-up Veda (by Dansili).
This is a colt who should have no trouble staying the Derby distance.
Of course, all of those good horses are just the tip of the iceberg of his pedigree as his grandam is Vadaza (by Zafonic), a stakes-placed half-sister to Valixir (by Trempolino) and Celebre Vadala (by Peintre Celebre) and out of a stakes-winning half-sister to several other horses of note.
Valixir won the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan, and the races in which he was placed included the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby), Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois, and Group 1 Prix Lupin.
Celebre Vadala got her best win in the Listed Prix Melisande over 10 furlongs, she was also successful over a mile and a half, and her star son is the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp star and young Tally-Ho Stud stallion Vadamos (by Monsun), who has his first foals on the ground.
Vadlamixa (by Linamix), third dam of The Pentagon, got her blacktype success in a mile listed contest at Deauville, but her half-brother Val Royal (by Royal Academy) won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile and a trio of Group/Grade 2 contests from eight to 10 furlongs before going on to sire Group 1 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas hero Cockney Rebel in a short stallion career: he died at the age of 12.
Their half-sister Grand Vadla (by Grand Lodge) won a pair of listed contests, half-brother Vadlawys (by Always Fair) won the Group 2 Prix Hocquart over 12 furlongs at Longchamp, and his full-sister Vadlawysa is the grandam of ill-fated Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) heroine Valyra (by Azamour) and of Group 2 Prix Chaudenay winner and Whytemount Stud stallion Valirann (by Nayef).
If you go back to the fifth dam then you will find branches leading to classic-winning miler Vahorimix (by Linamix) and to Group 1 Irish St Leger heroine Voleuse De Coeurs (by Teofilo), both of whom are, of course, only distant relations to The Pentagon.
The heavy ground, lack of a recent outing, and a small field may combine to produce a result that is not truly reflective of the long-term potential of each of the runners in tomorrow's classic trial, but there is every reason to hope that The Pentagon, and his two stable companions, can go on to become leading members of the current three-year-old crop.