The first big event of the year, the Sunshine Millions, has finally arrived. Horses like Soldier's Dancer, Pretty Unusual, Dubai Majesty, and This One's For Phil will be attending the event, but all eyes will be fixed on the turf sensation The Usual QT, as he attempts to extend his winning streak, yet again. However this time there's a little twist to the plot, normally there would be little to no question that The Usual QT had his race in the bag, but this time he will not be racing on turf, but staying out west to tackle Santa Anita's Pro-Ride synthetic course.
The winner of four stakes over the green in the closing months of 2009 has demonstrated such an ease when winning, that it's hard to question his status as possible one of the best turf stars in the nation. His synthetic form, however is a completely different story. For nearly half of his career, The Usual QT went win less in five start over synthetics. It was only when the switch to turf was made, that he became the hot shot star of California.
However, I would actually not let the fact that he remains win less on synthetics deter me from thinking the gelding can still deliver. If you take a closer look at his synthetic from you will find that he was second four of those five synthetic tries. Only once did he finish out of the money and that was a fifth place at Hollywood Park, which plays more like dirt than any of the other synthetic tracks in California. Another reason not to be put off by the surface switch is because the Sunshine Millions Classic is held at Santa Anita, whose synthetic track play more like turf than any other in the state. If you want proof all you have to do is look at what horses made the top three in the Breeders Cup Classic over the last two years. In 2008 you had brilliant Euro milers Ravens Pass and Henrythenavigator go come in one two, and last year America's Champion Turf Male, Gio Ponti ran second with Euro, Twice Over third.
One last factor to take into consideration is that some horses take some time to mature, to find their best stride, and when they do it's game over for everyone else. Maturity could have played a big factor in The Usual QT's first win, it could be that in that race everything just clicked, and that is all it takes for a horse to make the jump from good to down right spectacular. Of course it could be that he likes the lawn that much better, but at the same time it could maturity, or even both. Just remember that The Usual QT is a much better horse than he was July 5 of last year. He is now an older male, and in becoming that he might just be good enough to strut his stuff, yet again, even if it's not on his preferred surface.