Donn Hcp winner all Quality

Quality Road served notice he will be a horse to be reckoned with for North America’s 2010 divisional honours after a runaway victory in the G1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Quality Road (4c Elusive Quality – Kobla by Strawberry Road) broke his own track record for 1800m clocking 1.47.49s which bettered the time he set in winning the G1 Florida Derby last March.

“We will give him a little break, and then point for the Metropolitan Hcp at Belmont and the big races at Saratoga in August,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.  “Then it’s on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

Quality Road started a long odds-on favourite after a first-up victory in the G3 Hal’s Hope Stakes in January.  He tracked pacemaker Past the Point before jockey John Velasquez set the colt alight and he responded with authority to win by 12 lengths  in the opening Group 1 of the year in North America.  “He was just awesome,” Velasquez summed up.

Quality Road showed promise early on as a three-year-old capturing the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and G1 Florida Derby, however, his Triple Crown aspirations were plagued by quarter-crack issues.

Owner-breeder Edward transferred the colt from Jim Jerkins to Todd Pletcher who saddled his new charge to an easy victory in the G2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga when he created another course record for 1300m clocking 1:13.74s.

He followed up with G1 placings behind Summer Bird (Birdstone) in the Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup when rain-affected tracks hampered his chances.

Quality Road didn’t get a chance to redeem himself in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.  He was the horse who suffered a meltdown in the barriers and was scratched on starter’s orders.  Connections could only look on as Zenyatta created history on a memorable afternoon at Santa Anita.

Quality Road has Australian connections on both sides of his pedigree.  He was bred in Virginia and is by former Darley shuttler Elusive Quality from the Strawberry Road mare Kobla.

The dam is a sister to Strawberry Road’s 1997 G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Ajina.  Her two year-old is Tale of the Cat filly named Kobla Cat.