Wed, 06/13/2018 - 15:10

On September 30, 2007, Smart Strike enjoyed what might well have been the greatest single day by a stallion in living memory. That afternoon he was represented by four individual stakes winners, headed by Fabulous Strike, who took the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at six furlongs on dirt; English Channel , who captured the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (G1) over 12 furlongs on turf; and Curlin , successful in Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at 10 furlongs on dirt.

Last weekend Quality Road  had one of the most outstanding days—at least for a sire in the United States—in the near decade since Smart Strike’s tour-de-force, with four stakes winners June 9 (if we include Lionite‘s tally in the Prairie Mile Stakes on Friday night, he was actually represented by five stakes winners in less than 24 hours). The Saturday quartet consisted of last year’s champion 3-year-old filly Abel Tasman, who romped by 7 1/2 lengths in the 8 1/2-furlong Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1); Spring Quality, winner of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1) run over 10 furlongs on turf; the 3-year-old filly Paved, who gained a first graded triumph when she took the the Honeymoon Handicap (G2) over nine furlongs on turf by 3 1/2 lengths; and last year’s Golden Rod Stakes (G2) winner, Road to Victory, who took her record to three-for-three with a victory in the Alywow Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Although pedigree and racetrack credentials don’t always translate to stud success, Quality Road certainly has plenty of both. He is by Elusive Quality—a son of Gone West, who carried off a title of U.S. leading sire for 2004—out of Kobla, a sister to champion 3-year-old filly Ajina, and from the same branch of the Frizette family as Mr. Prospector. At the track, having won his only start at 2, Quality Road established himself a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1) after taking the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) by 4 3/4 lengths and winning the Florida Derby (G1) in track-record time, but he was sent to the sidelines by quarter cracks. Away for more than four months, he returned to set another track record while capturing the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs. Third, attempting to carry his speed 10 furlongs in the Travers Stakes (G2), Quality Road went down by a length to his Travers conqueror, Summer Bird, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), then ended the year with a complete meltdown that caused him to be scratch at the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

A reformed Quality Road returned at 4 to tick off victories in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3); the Donn Handicap (G1), which he took by nearly 13 lengths while breaking his own Gulfstream Park nine-furlong track mark; and the Metropolitan Handicap (G1). The winning run came to a halt in the Whitney Handicap (G1), where Quality Road lost by a head while attempting to concede five pounds to that year’s eventual champion older male, Blame . A 4 3/4-length winner of the Woodward Stakes (G1), Quality Road failed to fire in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on his final start. In truth, although he was brilliant at distances from 6 1/2 to nine furlongs, the latter distance was probably the absolute limit of his stamina.

Retired to Lane’s End Farm—where Smart Strike also held court—Quality Road made an excellent start to his stud career, edging out Super Saver  for the freshman sire title in 2014. He was represented by a pair of high-class runners in Hootenanny , who won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T), and Blofeld , successful in the Futurity Stakes (G2) and Nashua Stakes (G2).

Quality Road had a much quieter year in 2015, when only one of his offspring won a black-type event, resulting in his stud fee dropping from $35,000 to $25,000, but he came roaring back to top the third-crop sire standings the following year, and had another standout year in 2017, with both Abel Tasman and champion 2-year-old filly Caledonia Road earning Eclipse Awards. Overall, he now has 27 stakes winners from the 364 foals in his first three crops, 18 graded, including other grade 1 winners City of Light and Salty—both successful at that level this year—Illuminant, and Klimt , bringing his total of winners at the highest level to eight. Quality Road’s current 2-year-old crop—his largest to date at 117 foals—is the one conceived after his freshman championship, so one would have to think there is a good chance of the fireworks continuing.

From a nick standpoint, Quality Road has already established some very distinct patterns. Abel Tasman and Spring Quality are his only starters from daughters of Deputy Minister, and he has three other graded winners out of mares from that line, including City of Light (dam by Dehere); Caledonia Road, Salty, and Klimt are from just nine starters out of mares by Dixie Union; and he has five graded stakes winners out of mares by Storm Cat and sons, two including Hootenanny, from daughters of Hennessy.

SOURCE:  BHD 6/13/18