Tuesday, December 1, 2009

7: Quality Road Takes Florida

Barbaro and Big Brown leant a lot of gravitas to the Florida Derby. Quality Road took it this year and established a new track record, though this oval was scraped for the event. It was lightning fast all day. Like I Want Revenge's Wood Memorial, the Florida Derby may have cemented Quality Road as one of the fastest three year olds, yet may have been the cause of his undoing. But this race was a fantastic one to watch. I really thought Dunkirk was gonna reel him in when they headed at the top of the stretch, he seemed to take QR's jockey by surprise, but QR would re-rally and hold off the high-priced gray. Dunkirk would make the Derby but get battered in the break. He made it back for the Belmont and nearly wired it in astonishing fashion. A check in that race would lead to a condyular fracture and he's been sidelined since, but will be back soon.

Quality Road came back at the Saratoga meet in the Amsterdam where he took on Capt. Candyman Can on a sealed track. He would notch yet another track record after a poor break that pressaged the gating problems that would keep him out of the Breeders Cup in a dramatic gate scratch, this writhing bay, blindfolded and scared luckily was kept under rein by one of the loaders at Santa Anita. The trauma/drama continued with him famously refusing to board a plane home. He's home now and the connections can hopefully get this ridiculously talented colt back on the right track.


  1. Just an explanation of Quality Road's behavior, if you do not mind: QR was still badly shaken after the trauma at the Breeder's Cup incident. He'd been roughed up badly by the gate crew: The blindfold, used in conjunction with a whip, which was applied after he was blindfolded, created the tipping point for that harrowing display of fear at Oak Tree. Therefore, when QR was loaded onto the plane, he experienced a post-traumatic stress moment when asked to enter the small stall. He did not act out at all. He simply froze and began to sweat, exhibiting PTSD symptoms. Pletcher's handlers were wise enough at that moment to realize that he was still traumatized; they had not realized how badly shaken he was until that moment. They simply took him off the plane to avoid any possibility of a further problem. When QR returned by van to NY, Bob D. and the Aqueduct loading crew did a superb job working with QR, and he passed all loading gate challenges with flying colors. It is apparent that QR is claustrophobic - he is a very big and broad horse. Like some other big horses, he does need firm yet skillful handling in the starting gate. He did not receive skillful handling at the Breeder's Cup race. I hope that this incredible and also beautiful colt will race again next year. I would assume he will never race again at Santa Anita.

  2. I was a Dunkirk fan in this race. I still am
    but Quality Road was on the inside and may have benefited from a better trip that day.

    I think this battle had at least some psychological ramifications to both of these horses for the rest of the year.

  3. I can't wait to see both colts race again.