09/23/2010 2:53PM

Qualia's last was nothing but trouble

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Qualia will need a return to form in the Gallant Bloom to earn a spot in the Breeders' Cup.

ELMONT, N.Y. – If you throw out Qualia’s last race, she certainly fits with the other eight fillies and mares entered in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park.

And there are sufficient reasons to ignore Qualia’s last race, a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 28. If she is able to revert back to her previous form, Qualia could win her first stakes and earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. The winner of the Gallant Bloom, run at 6 1/2 furlongs, earns an automatic berth in that race under the Breeders’ Cup’s Win and You’re In initiative.

Qualia was beaten a head by Rightly So in the Grade 3 Bed O’ Roses here in July and was well regarded entering the Ballerina. But little went right for her in that spot.

Qualia lost her left front shoe and had to be reshod in the paddock. She also acted up near the starting gate. When the gates opened, Qualia broke to the right and bumped with Pretty Prolific – another Gallant Bloom starter – forcing that one to stumble a couple of times.

Usually prominent early, Qualia was fifth and behind horses and resented dirt in her face. Entering the far turn, jockey Rajiv Maragh attempted to take Qualia into the clear, but the filly continued to drift to the outside, and when Maragh attempted to gain some leverage over the filly, his saddle slipped. The race was basically over at the three-eighths pole.

Since the Ballerina, Qualia has trained well enough to give trainer Robert Ribaudo confidence his filly suffered no ill effects from the Ballerina.

“Now the work is all done and everything. I feel real good about the situation,” Ribaudo said.

Provided she breaks alertly, Qualia will likely be stalking Rapport, who looms the main speed under Martin Garcia. Rapport comes off a front-running win in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga, her third win from her last four starts for trainer Bob Baffert.

“If she breaks well and gets an aggressive position early, that’s all I want,” Ribaudo said. “This way, may the best horse win.”

Sara Louise, beaten a head by the Baffert-trained Indian Blessing in this race last year, makes her 4-year-old debut in this spot after being forced to miss the Honorable Miss at Saratoga with a bruised foot. Last year, Sara Louise came off a lengthy layoff to win the Victory Ride at Saratoga.

Lovely Lil, First Passage, My Jen, Devil by Design, and Moontune Missy complete the field.