01/26/2011 5:58PM

The Usual Q.T. faces strong field in Sunshine Millions Turf

Barbara D. Livingston
The Usual Q.T. will face a graded stakes-caliber field in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The Usual Q.T., winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar in July, will end a streak of five appearances in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races when he starts in Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Technically, the Sunshine Millions Turf, run over 1 1/8 miles, is a restricted race, but the depth of the field makes it seem more like a graded race. The Usual Q.T. was third in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap here Jan. 27. In the Sunshine Millions Turf, he must beat the winner of that race, Jeranimo, as well as the multiple Grade 1 winner Presious Passion, the Grade 2 stakes winner Caracortado, and California Cup Classic winner Soul Candy. The race drew a field of eight.

The Usual Q.T., a California-bred, is winless in four starts since the Eddie Read, a span that includes a third behind the mighty Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. The recent loss in the San Gabriel Handicap did not discourage trainer Jim Cassidy, considering The Usual Q.T. had an interrupted preparation because of wet conditions in Southern California in the second half of December.

“There was very little I could do with him,” Cassidy said. “I was totally setback. He ran third on class and he bled on me, too.”

The Sunshine Millions Turf is the strongest of three Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita on Saturday. Cost of Freedom seeks his fourth consecutive stakes win in the $200,000 Sprint over six furlongs. In the $300,000 Distaff over 1 1/16 miles, Briecat seeks her third consecutive win and fourth in her last five starts.

Bejarano will appeal suspension

Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano intends to appeal a three-day suspension for careless riding on Jan. 20, according to his agent, Joe Ferrer.

Bejarano’s suspension was scheduled to run from Thursday through Saturday, but he is named to ride on those days after receiving a stay of the suspension.

The suspension was issued by Santa Anita stewards on Jan. 21. Bejarano was cited for his ride aboard Concerto’s Thunder in the fifth race on Jan. 20. Concerto’s Thunder was disqualified from sixth to ninth after interfering with Woodland Flood, who clipped heels with Concerto’s Thunder in the first quarter-mile of the one-mile turf race.

Through Sunday, Bejarano led the jockey standings with 31 wins, seven more than closest pursuer Joel Rosario.