10/27/2010 4:49PM

The Usual Q. T. tackling some heavyweights in BC Mile


Typically, the trainer of a horse must talk an owner out of aiming too high. But in the case of The Usual Q. T., it was up to trainer Jim Cassidy to plead the case for the Breeders’ Cup Mile to the partnership that owns the West Coast’s most proven grass miler. Cassidy’s argument won out, and The Usual Q. T. was among the 11 pre-entries in the $2 million Mile.

Heading the list of Mile pre-entries, of course, is Goldikova, who, if not for the Zenyatta’s gigantic presence – both physically and narratively – would be the toast of Breeders’ Cup weekend. Goldikova is one of flour overseas Mile pre-entries along Paco Boy, Delegator, and Beethoven. Gio Ponti, as expected, was cross-entered in this race and the Classic.

Sidney’s Candy, another Californian, probably will be a shorter price in the Mile than The Usual Q. T., but where Sidney’s Candy’s turf reputation is based on a single performance, The Usual Q. T. has demonstrated his class over a wide swath of space and time. The 4-year-old gelding has won 8 of his 11 turf starts, has twice finished second, and was fourth of 16 last March in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free at Meydan.

Nevertheless, the 4-year-old gelding’s group of owners was leaning hard toward starting The Usual Q. T. in the California Cup instead of the Breeders’ Cup, and at one point last week, The Usual Q.T. was said to be out of the Mile.

“Finally I got them convinced to go to the Breeders’ Cup,” Cassidy said. “I think the horse deserved a chance. He’s done well enough. I would have run a lesser horse in there if I had the opportunity. And he’s training fabulous.”

Cassidy was reached at an English horse sale, and he has done good business buying European racers and importing them to the United States. The Usual Q. T. is no European. He is a California-bred by the $12,500 stallion Unusual Heat and foaled by a mare Cassidy claimed for $20,000. The stud fee and claiming price combined barely scratch the surface of The Usual Q.T.’s earnings of $1,207,240.

That number could be higher had things worked out better for The Usual Q. T. in the Sept. 19 Woodbine Mile. Drawn wide, The Usual Q. T. raced three or four paths off the rail around the race’s one turn, and might have been seven wide turning for home. He seized the lead at the stretch call, but was run down by Court Vision – another Mile pre-entrant – who had hugged he rail to upper stretch, where a gaping hole afforded him a clean run.

“I thought we could have won,” Cassidy said.

Moreover, The Usual Q. T. moved from eighth position at the race’s third call to first at the stretch call, an apparently premature move by jockey Victor Espinoza.

“I’d like Victor to have some patience,” Cassidy said. “I asked him to do that at Woodbine, and we’re dealing with same kind of [long] stretch at CD like we did there. Goldikova might have a bigger kick, but ours is pretty big, too.”

Cassidy, 65, will be sending out his third and fourth Breeders’ Cup starters. In addition to The Usual Q.T. – who worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 Wednesday at Hollywood Park – Cassidy plans to run Evening Jewel in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

As for Goldikova, she is to flying directly to Louisville from France on Saturday, and trainer Freddie Head said on a conference call Wednesday that the two-time Mile winner could not be doing better.

“She’s as well as I’ve ever had her,” Head said.