01/26/2018 1:06PM

Two champions for Quality Road add to Evans's legacy

Barbara D. Livingston
Quality Road now counts two champion daughters on his résumé after Abel Tasman and Caledonia Road won Eclipse Awards in their respective divisions.

Quality Road got an exclamation point on his breakout season Thursday night, when two of his daughters were honored as Eclipse Award champions. The young stallion’s emergence at stud is a credit to the program of his breeder, the late Edward P. Evans, whose legacy is continuing in more ways than one.

Quality Road, led by champions Abel Tasman and Caledonia Road, finished eighth on the 2017 general sires list by earnings – his best finish yet – and led Daily Racing Form’s Beyer Sire Performance Standings for sires of 3-year-olds based on Beyer Speed Figures to meet or surpass the benchmark figure of 90. The Elusive Quality horse stands at the Farish family’s Lane’s End Farm, a longtime business associate of Evans, who died in December 2010. Lane’s End handled the consignment when Evans’s Spring Hill Farm dispersed its Thoroughbred holdings in record-shattering fashion, grossing more than $62 million over the course of three Keeneland auctions in 2011. Proceeds benefited the Edward P. Evans Foundation, which funds medical research, primarily for myelodysplastic syndrome. Quality Road, whose advertised stud fee rises to $70,000 for 2018, continues to benefit the foundation, which owns shares in him.

“He’s been a particularly gratifying [stallion], being bred and raced by Ned Evans,” Lane’s End’s Bill Farish said. “It’s great to see him do so well. The foundation still owns eight shares in him, and gets to participate in an income stream that is forever growing.”

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Quality Road’s own racing career was brilliant, with signature scores in the Florida Derby, Donn Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap, and Woodward Stakes, but also was marked by misadventure, as he battled a foot issue that forced him to miss the 2009 Triple Crown series and was an infamous gate scratch in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He ultimately won 8 of 13 starts, only missing the board once, and earned more than $2.2 million.

“He really was what Ned was trying to do for his whole career in the breeding world,” Farish said.

Quality Road got his stallion career off to a flying start, as he was the leading freshman sire of 2014 with a first crop including Hootenanny, the winner of the Windsor Castle Stakes at the renowned Royal Ascot meeting and later the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Abel Tasman took Quality Road to new heights last spring by winning the Kentucky Oaks. She added a pair of Grade 1 victories in New York, in the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks, and then was second to older champion Forever Unbridled in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“She’s a filly that’s got a lot of scope, a lot of size, a lot of power,” Michael Wallace, racing and bloodstock manager for co-owner China Horse Club, said of the champion. The Club campaigns Abel Tasman in partnership with breeder Clearsky Farms.

Caledonia Road won two of three outings last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The Florida-bred filly was a $140,000 purchase by her racing connections out of the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. Reiley McDonald of consignor Eaton Sales said the filly displays physical traits typical of her sire.

“Caledonia Road was a pretty yearling, and, like the Quality Roads, very leggy and scopey,” he recalled.

Quality Road’s other prominent performers in 2017 included City of Light, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes; Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Salty, who was multiple Grade 1 placed; and graded stakes winners Cowboy Culture, Guest Suite, High Ridge Road, Illuminant, Long Haul Bay, Road to Victory, and Spring Quality.

Evans’s legacy is also seen in 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, who is from a Spring Hill female family that was also responsible for 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. Besilu Stables purchased Grade 2 winner Quiet Giant for $3 million out of the Spring Hill dispersal at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The following spring, Besilu bred the mare to Candy Ride. Three Chimneys Farm acquired the resulting foal, Gun Runner, as a yearling in a package deal, and later partnered with Winchell Thoroughbreds on him.

Bringing the story full circle, Chris Baker, who was the final manager at Spring Hill Farm, and participated in foaling both Quiet Giant and Gun Runner, is now the chief operating officer at Three Chimneys, where Gun Runner heads to stud in February.

“I liked Gun Runner from the beginning,” Baker said. “I liked the way he was when he was born. I thought he was an exceptional first foal on size, scope, and attitude. I had confidence in Quiet Giant, because she could run. She had Grade 1 ability that didn’t show up on her race record.”

Plenty of ability has shown up now.