08/23/2010 12:41PM

The Usual Q.T. flaunts speed for Classic

Benoit & Associates
The Usual Q. T. (above) is Unusual Heat's top runner.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Jim Cassidy did a fast boil after a slow work by The Usual Q.T. last week at Del Mar. On Monday, The Usual Q.T., in his final drill for the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on Saturday, worked fast, five furlongs in 58.60 seconds, which equaled the best time of 59 at the distance.

“We’ve gone from one extreme to the other,” Cassidy said Monday morning. By Saturday, Cassidy is hoping the right balance can be struck.

The run-up to the Pacific Classic has gone through many twists and turns for The Usual Q.T. He seemingly was headed to the Arlington Million following his powerful victory last month in the Eddie Read Stakes on turf here, but as July turned to August, Cassidy began thinking more seriously about returning to the main track for the Pacific Classic. An impressive work two weeks ago over Del Mar’s Polytrack surface sealed the deal, and though the last two works have not been as consistent as Cassidy desired, he is satisfied he made the right decision in remaining here rather than heading to Chicago, even with The Usual Q.T. being far more accomplished on turf.

“He needs firm turf,” said Cassidy, whose fears of a soft course at Arlington were realized after a storm hit there the night before the race. “It’s nice to stay home in California. And this is a good track for him.”

Victor Espinoza, who rides The Usual Q.T., was aboard for Monday’s work.

“I was disappointed that he hadn’t done enough last week,” Cassidy said. “You need to be a little tighter to run on the main track than the turf. He had a good blow after the work today. He’s good to go now.”

The Pacific Classic, the richest race of the season here, offers a guaranteed berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic through the Win and You’re In program. Entries were to be taken for the race, and post positions drawn, at a local hotel on Tuesday night. As of Monday, eight horses were certain and two more were possible for the Pacific Classic, including Richard’s Kid, who won the race last year as a 24-1 longshot and who had his final work at Del Mar on Monday as well, going four furlongs in 46.80 under Joe Steiner. The time was the best of 49 at the distance.

In addition to Richard’s Kid (Mike Smith the rider) and The Usual Q.T. (Espinoza), the Pacific Classic field is expected to include Awesome Gem (David Flores), Crowded House (Corey Nakatani), Dakota Phone (Joel Rosario), Hold Me Back (Garrett Gomez), Isle of Giant’s (Patrick Valenzuela), and Temple City (Rafael Bejarano). Unusual Suspect (Alonso Quinonez) will be entered in the race, but could instead go in the Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar Handicap on the turf on Sunday, according to his trainer and co-owner, Barry Abrams.

Unusual Suspect worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Monday. Dakota Phone breezed seven furlongs in 1:29.80. Of the 131 horses who worked at Del Mar Monday, Dakota Phone was the only drill designated “breezing” by the clockers.

Battle of Hastings is also possible for the race. He worked five furlongs from the gate in 1:00.60 on Monday at Hollywood Park for trainer Jeff Mullins, who said a decision on participating would not be made until Tuesday morning.