Tuesday, June 01, 2010

High Quality

What can anyone say about the performance we witnessed on Memorial Day at Belmont Park? Other than, it was other-worldly, I don't know. Quality Road absolutely toyed with the competition in the Grade 1 Met Mile on Monday and certainly looked like the best older male horse in the country in doing it. His last two races have been complete tour de forces, with the crushing win in the Donn Handicap on February 6 (where he posted a 121 Beyer speed figure and won by over a dozen lengths) and now the determined score in the Met Mile yesterday. Quality Road has clearly stepped into the elite Thoroughbred class, something that many thought would happen during the Triple Crown season last year, prior to his being taken off the Triple Crown trail.

Think about this for a second, the two worst races of Quality Road's career both came over sloppy surfaces. He ran third in the slop at Saratoga in the Travers and followed that with a yielding second (both losses came to Summer Bird) in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. His Beyers for those two races were 103 and 110, respectively. It just makes the mystery of what happened to cause that freakout at the Breeders' Cup all the more, well, mysterious. I had win money and several other wagers connected to him in the Classic and had to do my own impression of Quality Road to get down to the windows to change those tickets before the changed post time of the Classic. I probably wasn't alone in wondering how it would affect the horse going forward. The answer to that query is not at all. Perhaps, he just matured tremendously during the time between the Classic and the Hal's Hope at Gulfstream on January 3, which he won without any exertion.

Whatever the cause and whatever the reason for his dazzling form thus far in 2010, I can say now that he continues to impress with every step he takes. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.57 after getting pressure from Le Grand Cru and then withstood the challenge of Musket Man (who I have said on this blog many times is one hell of a horse himself) in the stretch to win the Met Mile by a length and a half in 1:33.11.

Remember though, the story of the Met Mile was not the final margin, it was the final result. It was a result that catapulted Quality Road into the mix for Horse Of The Year, it was a result that allows Quality Road to be mentioned with the likes of Zenyatta, it was a result that should send a tingle through the spine of anyone that loves The Sport Of Kings. Just think about what we might see in the months ahead. It will hopefully culminate with a Classic of Classics at Churchill Downs with Zenyatta and Quality Road going mano a mujer (to steal a line from Castle, the best show on TV right now) for all the marbles, Horse Of The Year and Zenyatta's incredible winning streak on the line. It promises to be pulsating.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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