Mon, 06/11/2018 - 15:15

Trainer Graham Motion sprung the upset in Belmont’s GI Woodford Reserve Manhattan S. for the second straight year with 18-1 shot Spring Quality(Quality Road) mowing his rivals down late for a neck success. The trainer saddled 27-1 shot Ascend (Candy Ride {Arg}) to a 1 1/4-length defeat of favored Time Test (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) in last year’s renewal of this event.

Drawn widest of all in post 13, the PA-bred bided his time near the back, with just two rivals beat, as GI Manhattan S. hero Hi Happy (Arg) (Pure Prize) and 48-1 shot Hello Don Julio (Afleet Alex) traded blows on the front end through early fractions of :24.08 and :48.54. Favored MGISW Beach Patrol (Lemon Drop Kid) and Grade II winner Manitoulin (Awesome Again) joined the leaders as three-quarters went up in 1:12.01, but Spring Quality remained patient under Edgar Prado, maintaining his position on the hedge. Hello Don Julio turned for home in front with Hi Happy and Manitoulin continuing to chase and Spring Quality was just gearing up out in the center of the track. The gelding charged up the outside to nail Grade I winner Sadler’s Joy (Kitten’s Joy) and Hi Happy in a blanket finish. A neck separated each of the top eight finishers–except fifth-place finisher Fashion Business (GB) (Frankel {GB}), who was just a head behind fourth-place Manitoulin–and only three-quarters of a length separated the last four finishers.

“I hated the post position, but he had a great trip, considering the post,” said Motion, who also won the 2007 Manhattan with the late 2004 GI Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Better Talk Now (Talkin Man). “We felt like there was quite a lot of pace. The one thing we had to do was save ground; that was the most important thing. We saved ground on the first turn and I loved where he was down the backside. He had to swing a little wide coming off the bend, but he’s really special. How about two years in a row, winning this race with a long shot? It’s pretty crazy.”

Spring Quality has been an exercise in patience for Motion looking at his past performances. A first out winner on the Keeneland main track in October 2014, he was not seen again until March 2016 when he won a dirt sprint at Tampa, after which he was shelved for 11 months. Runner-up at Laurel in his February 2017 return, the bay finished off the board in 1 1/16-mile test at Keeneland last April and returned to winning ways in the mud at Pimlico on the GI Preakness S. undercard last May. Winning the state-bred Robellino S. at Penn National by a neck last August, the homebred lost to hard-knocking MGSW Page McKenney (Eavesdropper) in the state-bred Roanoke S. at Parx in September. Fourth when trying turf for the first time in Belmont’s GII Knickerbocker S. Oct. 9, Spring Quality scored his first grass win in Aqueduct’s GIII Red Smith S. Nov. 11 and came three-quarters of a length short of the previously undefeated Robert Bruce (Chi) (Fast Company {Ire}), who finished sixth in the Manhattan, last time in this venue’s nine-panel GIII Fort Marcy S May 5.

Pedigree Notes:

Spring Quality is the fifth Grade I winner, 18th graded winner and 27th black-type winner for his red hot sire Quality Road, who was also represented by GI Ogden Phipps S. heroine Abel Tasman and GII Honeymoon S. victress Paved Saturday. Abel Tasman, who is also out of a Deputy Minister mare, is one of two champions for her Lane’s End sire, who was also represented at last year’s Eclipse awards by champion juvenile filly Caledonia Road. The winner’s dam Spring Star, a third generation George Strawbridge, Jr., homebred, finished third in her lone start for Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard. She is also responsible for MGSW Holiday Star (Harlan’s Holiday) and her most recent produce is a 5-year-old mare named Schon (Harlan’s Holiday). Spring Quality’s second dam is MGSW & MGISP turfer Alice Springs (Val de l’Orne {Fr}) and his third dam is GISW grass runner First Approach (Northern Fling). He also hails from the female family of Australian champion Assertive Lad (Aus) (Zeditave {Aus}) and Australian MG1SW Assertive Lass (Aus) (Zeditave {Aus}).

SOURCE: TDN 6/9/18