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.