07/22/2010 2:33PM

New style should suit The Usual Q.T. in Read


DEL MAR, Calif. – Between his running styles and his accomplishments, The Usual Q.T. seems to evolve every six months.

At this time last year, he was a maiden after six starts. By the beginning of 2010, he had won four stakes, highlighted by a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last fall. The Usual Q.T. has no stakes wins this year, but his style of running has changed, according to jockey Victor Espinoza.

Instead of being anxious when challenged early, The Usual Q.T. is patient, and therefore more dangerous, Espinoza said. The veteran jockey’s theory will be tested in Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

“He’s more relaxed,” Espinoza said. “He’ll do what you want him to do. A couple of races before, he’d be really tough.”

With the change in racing style, The Usual Q.T. has been an easier horse to work. Espinoza was delighted with the gelding’s five-furlong workout on turf here in 1:02.80 on Monday.

“It was terrific,” Espinoza said. “I really liked the way he worked that day, a completely different horse. I didn’t have to do much.”

If The Usual Q.T. can be calm in the first half of the Read, he can win his fifth stakes in the Grade 1 race over 1 1/8 miles on turf. He should get an ideal trip.

The presence of Acclamation and Enriched ensures a quick pace. Acclamation won two turf marathons at Hollywood Park in the spring, before finishing last of nine in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 3. Enriched, a former claimer, won an allowance race over a mile on turf by 9 1/4 lengths at Hollywood Park in May.

The Read is a strong race. Aside from Acclamation, who won the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap in June, and The Usual Q.T., the field of seven features two other Grade 1 or Group 1 winners – Crowded House, who won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in England in 2008, and Victor’s Cry, who won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in a 21-1 upset in May.

The other two runners have live credentials. Loup Breton won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January; and Hyades was second to Acclamation in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap last month.

The Usual Q.T. has one victory in three starts this year, an allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 27. Earlier this year, he was ninth in the Sunshine Millions Classic, when he was pressured early and did not settle, and fourth in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in Dubai.

The Usual Q.T. is a bit leaner than trainer Jim Cassidy would prefer.

“I’d love to see more weight on him,” Cassidy said. “He’s not a robust thing. I was happy with the way he came out of that allowance.”

Julio Canani, who trains Loup Breton, and Eoin Harty, who starts Victor’s Cry, both like their chances but respect The Usual Q.T.

Loup Breton was third in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 1, but only fourth behind Acclamation and Hyades in the Whittingham. Last Sunday, Loup Breton worked five furlongs in 58.60 seconds at Hollywood Park.

“He worked unbelievably,” Canani said. “He’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse, but he should have won the race in Kentucky. He got trapped on the inside.

“The Usual Q.T. is a really nice horse, but my horse is doing great, he’s healthy and he’s eating.”

Victor’s Cry will be a threat from the back of the field, if a fast pace develops. Victor’s Cry won his first stakes in the Shoemaker. In the spring, he was stakes-placed in a turf sprint at Santa Anita. The Read will be the longest race of his career.

“I don’t have any reservations” about the distance, Harty said. “The trip will be important. He does have a good turn of foot. I don’t think it was a fluke that he won that race.

“I think The Usual Q.T. is a good horse. I thought his race in Dubai was a good race. To run well against those horses from Europe, and they are professional turf horses, was a good effort.”