02/07/2010 12:00AM

Quality Road sets two records in Donn

Bob Coglianese
Quality Road and John Velazquez leave the field far behind in the Donn Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Quality Road turned in one of the most impressive performances in the history of the storied on Saturday when he drew off to a record-setting 12 3/4-length victory over Dry Martini and seven other overmatched rivals at Gulfstream Park.

The victory was a measure of satisfaction for Quality Road's trainer, Todd Pletcher, who saddled Take the Points only 30 minutes earlier to finish first in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap but saw Take the Points disqualified for impeding a horse near the sixteenth pole.

Quality Road, a son of Elusive Quality owned by Edward P. Evans, completed a mile and one-eighth in a track-record 1:47.49 seconds, eclipsing his own record of 1:47.72 set last winter in the Florida Derby. His winning margin was easily the largest in the 52-year history of the event.

Quality Road was the beneficiary of a perfect trip under regular rider John Velasquez.

"The race unfolded just the way we thought it would," said Pletcher.

Quality Road broke first but then rated kindly for John Velazquez off the expected pace of Past the Point, who set realistic splits of 23.21, and 46.02 seconds for the opening quarter and half. Quality Road stalked the leader from the outset, moved readily to command while still in hand midway on the second bend, edged well clear while kept wide turning for home, then steadily increased his advantage under urging to the end.

Dry Martini rallied from well back along the rail to finish second, a length in front of Delightful Kiss. Mambo Meister drifted steadily through the final furlong and checked home another head further back in fourth.

Quality Road paid $2.80.

"Not too much you can say about a performance like that," said Pletcher. "That was pretty awesome, especially considering he was spotting six to nine pounds to the other horses. The race unfolded just like we anticipated. He showed up today and ran one of his best races."

Pletcher said the plan was to bring Quality Road to Florida for the winter and run him in the Hal's Hope - which he won by 2 3/4 lengths - and Donn and then freshen him up and point for the Met Mile at Belmont Park this spring.