Gulfstream’s dirt once again a Quality Road

The performance of Quality Road in Saturday’s Donn Handicap completely captured the American racing world’s attention on a day where “cancelled” was a word that hurt the nationwide landscape.  With Santa Anita cancelling it’s fourth racing program in the last month because of poor drainage on the Pro-Ride main track, approximately 5:00 PM EST was a great time for a breakthrough performance.  The burly son of Elusive Quality took it upon himself to post the best performance of the year and one of the most impressive of the last few racing seasons. 

Quality Road has clearly been at his best at Gulfstream as his victories in the 2009 runnings of the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby were absolutely spectacular and he came into the Donn off of a workmanlike win in the Hal’s Hope.  He was facing a surprisingly large field in the Donn which included five graded stakes winners among his nine rivals and was sure to receive some pace pressure from the start.  How he would react to potentially posting a fast opening half-mile remained to be seen but his backers were confident the job would get done as he left the gate at 2/5.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at the Donn:

SCENE #1 – As the field entered the first turn of the Donn, jockey John Velazquez was able to angle Quality Road outside of Past the Point into the stalking position both rider and horse love.

SCENE #2 – Midway down the backstretch, after a half mile in :46.02 the leaders had opened up a three-length separation on the balance of the field.  To put things in perspective, the leader at this point was Past the Point, who wound up finishing sixth beaten nearly 15 lengths. 

SCENE #3 – As the field entered the short Gulfstream stretch Quality Road was through sparring with Past the Point and had opened up a four-length lead. 

SCENE #4 – With only yards to go Quality Road’s tour de force was complete as he had opened a lead of about a dozen lengths.  The final margin would be 12 and 3/4 and his Beyer figure, after revision, was 121.  It was his highest Beyer figure and his eighth above 100 in nine starts.

Todd Pletcher announced after the Donn that Quality Road would be freshened for a try in the Met Mile, a race that’s been known to complete a catalog for stud duty quite nicely.  Let’s just say that when he does re-surface in the Met Mile, all eyes will be on this guy to begin a run that’ll end in November with a potential date with a couple of leading ladies.

With the only three year-old race scheduled for last weekend cancelled, there will be no update to my Derby Countdown tomorrow, but I’ll be back to chronicle some of the best performances so far from the crop of 2007.  Until then, enjoy the Donn Handicap:

All still images courtesy of


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