Monday, October 26, 2009

Quality Road's Path to Greatness

He went one for one as a two year old only to come back and run second to Theregoesjojo. When Quality Road entered the Fountain of Youth he was one of the long shots on the board. His maiden win that earned him so much attention and a 101 Beyer speed figure was forgotten. Unable to live without the limelight Quality Road not only won the Fountain of Youth, but he dominated it. Winning by four and a half lengths and running a 1.35 flat on a track that had been playing slow all day. In this race he beat a field of some of the best 3yr old sprinters, Notonthesamepage, Capt Candyman Can, and This Ones For Phil are just a few.

In his next race Quality Road stamped himself as not only a derby horse, but the early Derby favorite. Running longer than a mile for the first time he easily dispatched rising star Dunkirk, while also setting a new track record. It seemed that after starting off the year with such a bang that nobody would forget hulking son of Elusive Quality now.

Unfortunately, after the Fl Derby Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks and was sidelined for four months. During this time he switched to Todd Pletcher's barn. Todd began prepping Quality Road for a start in the Mid Summer Derby, or Travers stakes. In the morning's the colt dazzled his on watchers with brilliant displays of speed, suggesting that he was ready for a top effort. As a prep race Pletcher pointed Quality Road towards the Grade two Amsterdam Stakes, going six and a half furlongs. Picking up right where he left off, Quality Road, came back not only to win the Amsterdam, but to also break another track record.

His winning streak was soon halted by Summer Bird, a son of Birdstone, who relishes distance and an off track, both of which he got in the Travers. Excuses were made for Quality Road's shortness in the stretch, he had a bad trip, it was his second race off a layoff, etc. However after being beaten by Summer Bird for the second time in a row in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he has again faded into the background.

When I look at Quality Road I see a brilliantly talented horse, but not one who is able to go the distance of 10 furlongs. In his two tries he has failed to get by the superior stamina of Summer Bird. To me Quality Road is brilliant up to nine furlongs, but vulnerable at anything above. The son of Elusive Quality is pointing towards the Breeders Cup, namely the Classic. I wonder if that race is best suited for the colt. I would like to see Quality Road in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.

Quality Road is one of the quickest, if not the quickest horses in training, and would have one heck of a shot at winning the Dirt Mile. He has already beaten one of the main horses in the race, Capt. Candyman Can. We already know he has the sprinters speed, yet can stretch it out comfortable over a mile. He is able to rate or lead, and is probably the most talented horse in the group. The only question mark would be the surface, but he would have that same question to answer, and many more in the Classic.

This colt could be one of the all time best miler/middle distance horse in the country if given the chance, so why not put him in a place where he could finally strut his stuff. This year, and many in the past have been all about pushing horses to past their best distance, and at times ruining them at the expense of bigger purse or pushing stud value. Quality Road has too much talent to be pushed beyond what he wants, or the distance he truly excels at. He has too much talent and potential to waste. I say run him in the Dirt Mile this year, while next year letting him excel in the prestigious nine furlong events. He could be one of the best milers in the world if given the chance.

What are your thoughts regarding the brilliant Quality Road's path, to not only the Cup, but to greatness?


  1. Nice post Dani, I just had this conversation recently...the Dirt Mile makes so much sense. He would be strictly the horse to beat at a mile, assuming he can handle the surface. Of course if he happens to win the Classic...

  2. I'm not saying he won't win the Classic or that he can't win at that distance, I just think that he is vulnerable at anything longer than nine furlongs. He has shown that a lot of things, including mud do not phase him, but I think certain horses like SB are better than him at the Classic distances. If he were to run in the Dirt Mile this year, I would bring him back to run in the big nine furlong races next year, like the Donn, Whitney, Woodward. He remindes me of Lawyer Ron now that I thin of it, very explosive at middle distances and shorter ones, and still a top notch horse at Classics, but not as good as he is going nine or shorter.