02/07/2010 1:45AM

Very High Quality


121 Quality Road's powerful runaway in the Donn Handicap Saturday earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 121, the highest awarded to any race since Midnight Lute's 124 in the 2007 Forego and the highest in a race longer than a mile since the Commentator-Saint Liam Whitney of 2005. (Update: Revised from a preliminary 122 to a final 121 Sunday morning.)

Breaking his own track record of 1:47.72, set winning last year's Florida Derby, Quality Road won by 12 3/4 lengths in 1:47.49 over a track that was not particularly quick in the day's other five dirt races. The only other dirt race on the Saturday card at the nine-furlong distance was the opener, where $6250 older-filly claimers were timed in 1:53.18. Three one-mile races went in 138.04 (older males $25k claimers), 1:38.44 (3yo Alw N1x) and 138.51 (OF N1x) and the day's lone dirt sprint, for 3-year-old maidens, was run in 123.22.

Quality Road's performance looked as good as it comes up on paper. He stalked Past the Point through six furlongs in 1:09.87, shot past and extended his lead from 5 lengths after a mile in 1:34.78 to more than a dozen at the wire. Granted, he was the only Grade 1 winner in the Donn, but the second- and third place finishers had each won four graded stakes including the G2 Suburban (Dry Martini) and G2 Ohio Derby (Delightful Kiss). It was a huge effort against a respectable field, one worth savoring:

Quality Road is an E.P. Evans homebred son of Elusive Quality, who himself ran stratospheric Beyers of 122 and 123 in seven-furlong races at Gulfstream in 1997 and 1998.

In other years, the Donn peformance would have sent Quality Road to Dubai as the heavy favorite for the rich Dubai World Cup. but that race is being run over a new synthetic Tapeta track at Meydan this year. Trainer Todd Pletcher told reporters after the Donn that the current plan was instead to point Quality Road for the Met Mile and other dirt races in New York leading to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
mary in vt. I don't remember the races on the undercard for the haskell but they were probably of higher quality than $6250 F&M claimers! The route races on the Donn under card were of dubious quality. No big surprise that Quality road would outrun them by 30+ lengths. That being said QR did turn in an exceptional effort...
Jim More than 1 year ago
Steve, great article about NY racing and its problems in Empire State of Mind, but your comment about Gov. Paterson being "spectacularly ineffective" was much too kind. He is by far the biggest moron in government I have ever seen and he has screwed the good people of NY out of millions of dollars by not acting, and now that he does act, he choses a group with no experience, and questionable political ties. He is a criminal, and blind in more ways than one. Keep pounding him every day. The politicians are stupid enough to let NY racing die, even though it will hurt NY financially every single year in the future.
Nick More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, we love your analysis of Beyer figures for Quality Road but when are you going to weigh in on the current debacle in NY regarding VLT's, something a bit more meaningful regarding the future of racing in NY, don't you think? Is there any doubt that VLT's will never be at Aqueduct? [Nick: http://www.drf.com/news/article/110619.html -- SC]
Clocker_Dan More than 1 year ago
Mary_in_VT -- I agree that from a splits/time perspective last year's Haskell and this year's Donn were very similar. However I am pretty sure that Beyer speed figures also take into account how fast all other races were run on that track and that surface that day, to see how the track was "playing" overall. That's why even races with identical fraction and final times over different tracks and on different days can have vastly different BSFs -- every track is different to begin with, and each track can vary in how "fast" it's playing day-to-day.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Why is the big race on a Friday??? Sure it is TV related but even so would it not get more exposure simply on simulcast than on a Friday on a national network?
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Any chance for Z, RA, QR to meet in the Gold Cup? Seems like an appropriate length of time before the BCC and obviously its at 10f? From the races you have outlined it seems like that would not be on the radar for QR but maybe RA and Z could face off there at least.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
As for the Rachel-Zenyatta showdown on April 9: I wonder if ESPN would show this? Interestingly, they do not have any NBA games scheduled as of now for Friday, April 9, and if they did have an NBA doubleheader that night, they could conceivably push those back to 8:30 and 11:00 PM ET for that night to accommodate the Rachel-Zenyatta showdown. I could also see NBC push to get this in prime time from 8:00-9:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM CT with post time if so set for 7:35 PM local time (it is light out late enough for Oaklawn to do this in early April). NBC is scheduled to show the Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn the next day anyway, so they likely would already have a crew in place for that race and could simply pick this one up as well. Friday night is becoming as much of a "black hole" as Saturday night TV-ratings wise (though not as much), and NBC can simply air their normal Friday program at 8:00 PM ET/PT an hour later at 9:00 ET/PT since they have Dateline scheduled for two hours anyway from 9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT on Fridays after the Olympics and can simply shorten that to one hour that night (Friday 4/9) to accomodate a Rachel-Zenyatta showdown.
Mary in VT More than 1 year ago
My hat is off to the trainer that brought Quality Road back from severe feet issues and severe gate issues to let his star shine so brightly. Well done. Very well done. But can anyone explain to me why Rachel's Haskell didn't earn her a Beyer in the 120's? I think the fractions in the Haskell deserve a closer look. Munnings in the 2 path with Rachel glued to his neck ran the first quarter in the Haskell in 22:99 ~ Past the Point in the Donn 23:21. Munnings with Rachel glued to his neck ran the half in the Haskell in 46:43 ~ Past the Point in the Donn 46.02. Munnings with Rachel glued to his neck ran 6f in the Haskell in 1:09.92 ~ QR/Past the Point in the Donn 1:09:87. Rachel bobbled slightly at the break, settled into the 3 path, and ran 3 wide all the way around the track until she was alone in the stretch. While still under wraps, this 3 yr. old filly stuck like glue to a top quality sprinter (who's running this weekend by the way) until he was cooked ... and *STILL* drew off from the Belmont winner who had benefited from an inside trip ... to win by 6 lengths ... in the soup. Final Time 1:47:21 Stakes Record 1:47:00 Track Record 1:46:80 ... Quality Road's Track Record in the Donn 1:47.49. Not sure now, but I'm thinking Rachel earned a Beyer of 116 in the Haskell. After reading Andy Beyer's glowing description of QR's Donn effort, I can't help but wonder why he was so stingy with Rachel's Beyer for the Haskell. Can anybody make sense of that for me? [Mary: Judging by the times of the other races and horses on the undercards those days, the track was slower at GP the day of the Donn than it was at Mth the day of the Haskell. -- SC]
Phil More than 1 year ago
Rather than blame the gate crew at Santa Anita for their load in the BC Classic, I'm just thankful that one ass't starter had the prescence of mind to catch Quality Road when he broke through with the bindfold on.The vision of QR thrashing down that long straight with his eyes covered...
Robert Slifer More than 1 year ago
Hey there is a 1 million dollar race at Charlestown on April 17th I guess they can dream...