01/06/2010 12:00AM

The Usual Q.T. will switch surfaces


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Usual Q.T., the winner of six consecutive races in the second half of 2009, will switch surfaces for his next start, in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita, trainer Jim Cassidy said on Wednesday.

The Sunshine Millions Classic, for California-breds and Florida-breds, will be run over 1 1/8 miles on the synthetic main track at Santa Anita on Jan. 30.

Cassidy said the race appeals to him more than shipping The Usual Q.T. to Florida for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf on the same day at Gulfstream Park.

"My thinking is to stay here," Cassidy said. "I don't know how he'll ship and I think it will be a push as to which race is tougher. Florida is a long way to go with a horse like this."

Owned by a partnership led by Don Van, The Usual Q.T. has displayed nervous behavior at times, Cassidy said, though not recently.

The Usual Q.T. has won four consecutive stakes - the California Cup Mile, Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby, Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, and Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on turf here on Dec. 26. He has not raced on a synthetic track since finishing fifth in a maiden race for sprinters at Hollywood Park last July, a race that Cassidy said was too short for the now 4-year-old Cal-bred gelding.

Last June, The Usual Q.T. was second by a half-length in a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic track at Hollywood Park. The Usual Q.T. was second in two synthetic-track races at Santa Anita in the fall of 2008.

Wednesday, The Usual Q.T. worked five furlongs in 1:01 on the synthetic track at Santa Anita under jockey Victor Espinoza. Cassidy timed the gelding in 1:00.20.

Cassidy said a successful start in the Sunshine Millions Classic could lead to further starts on synthetic tracks for The Usual Q.T.

"It gives me a lot of options," he said. "If I get beat, I can always go back to grass."