11/08/2009 12:00AM

The Usual Q.T. makes it 4 in a row


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Usual Q.T. stretched his unbeaten streak to four with a hard-fought win in Saturday's at Santa Anita.

For a gelding that needed six races to beat maidens, The Usual Q.T. has improved rapidly in recent months. Saturday's win left trainer Jim Cassidy strongly considering running The Usual Q.T. in a Grade 1 race at Hollywood Park on Thanksgiving weekend.

The Usual Q.T. made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby, and had no trouble making the transition from statebred ranks to superior open company.

"He's getting better and better," Cassidy said. "The way to keep him like that is to space his races."

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, The Usual Q.T. ($22.80) won by a head over Battle of Hastings, taking the lead in early stretch. The Usual Q.T. ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:44.48.

Battle of Hastings, the 9-5 favorite, seeking his fifth stakes win of the year, finished 1 3/4 lengths in front 15-1 No Inflation in the field of 11.

Espinoza kept The Usual Q.T. in third or fourth for the first six furlongs, tracking pacesetter Acclamation, who set a quick pace of 21.67 and 45.58 seconds. Cassidy said he was content that The Usual Q.T. was near a quick pace.

"I thought it would be a good idea," Cassidy said. "I thought I'd be a few lengths farther back, but he'll set himself up."

The Usual Q.T. raced over the longest distance of his career in the Oak Tree Derby, his second stakes win. He won the California Cup Mile here on Oct. 3. He has won 4 of 9 starts and $276,670.

Cassidy said two Grade 1 races worth $300,000 at Hollywood Park later this month are possibilities for The Usual Q.T. - the Citation Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 27 or the Hollywood Derby over 1 1/4 miles on turf on Nov. 29.