QUALITY ROAD LEADS NATION BY GRADE 1 WINNERS
Wed, 01/22/2020 - 16:19
By: Nicole Russo
City of Light kicked off the year in style for his sire, Quality Road, by winning the Pegasus World Cup Invitational by 5 3/4 lengths, continuing the momentum from his win in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile the previous fall. However, the Pegasus was the career finale for City of Light, as he immediately shipped to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky to join his sire in time for the 2019 breeding season. There were still more than 11 months remaining in the racing season.
But Quality Road still had several talented runners waiting in the wings, helping him to continue his ascent through the sire ranks. The 3-year-olds Bellafina, Dunbar Road, and Roadster all competed at the top level to make Quality Road the leading Kentucky stallion by North American Grade 1 winners with four on the season.
Bellafina, a multiple Grade 1 winner as a juvenile, came into her 3-year-old season in strong fashion, winning the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes, Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes, and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in succession. After finishing fifth in the Kentucky Oaks, she was given a freshening and returned to the races to finish a solid third in the Grade 1 Test Stakes behind likely Eclipse Award champion Covfefe and Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. Bellafina finished fourth in the Cotillion Stakes before finishing the year with two more Grade 1 placings, running second to Covfefe in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and second to Hard Not to Love in the La Brea Stakes.
Dunbar Road, unraced as a juvenile, also emerged to be a player on the 3-year-old filly scene. After finishing second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks in just her second start, she won the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes in her fourth outing. She proceeded to add the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes before finishing third behind older standouts Blue Prize and Elate in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes. She was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, her only unplaced outing.
Roadster ran down champion stablemate Game Winner to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April. Although he was winless for the rest of the season, he placed in three other stakes, including a runner-up finish behind Omaha Beach in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes.
With these successes on the racetrack, the commercial demand for Quality Road’s progeny has grown. From 64 yearlings sold last year, he recorded an average price of $323,359, ticking upward slightly from $312,898 for 49 sold in 2018. However, more dramatic jumps were seen in the averages for Quality Road’s weanlings, with the figure rising to $404,167 from $272,083 in 2018, and for mares in foal to the stallion, skyrocketing to $1,121,875 from $399,545 in 2018.
“His mare books get better and better and better, and this crop [of 2019 yearlings] is still [out of] $35,000 mares,” said Bill Farish of Lane’s End. “Next year’s $70,000, and then the next year is $150,000, so I think he’s really going to be one of the top-tier commercial stallions.”
Indeed, Quality Road’s stud fee has skyrocketed to place him among the American elite. The Elusive Quality horse, who himself scored Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby, Donn Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap, and Woodward Stakes, was standing for $35,000 in 2017. That fee doubled to $70,000 in 2018 after a career season in which Quality Road was represented by Eclipse Award champions Abel Tasman, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, and Caledonia Road, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Abel Tasman was a multiple Grade 1 winner again in 2018 and was joined on the track by City of Light, who won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and Quality Road’s fee more than doubled to $150,000 for 2019. He is up to $200,000 for 2020, placing him among the most expensive stallions in North America. War Front, at Claiborne Farm, stands for $250,000, while Darley’s Medaglia d’Oro and Gainesway’s Tapit each will stand for $200,000.
Hard Spun followed Quality Road among Kentucky stallions, with three Grade 1 winners in North America, including Hard Not to Love, who vanquished Bellafina in the La Brea. She was joined by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run, who also finished second in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, and Ashland Stakes winner Out for a Spin.
Hard Spun, who stands for Darley, also sired Australian Group 1 winner Gatting.
Following Quality Road and Hard Spun, there were 14 current or former Kentucky stallions tied with two Grade 1 winners apiece – Ghostzapper, Into Mischief, Kantharos, Kitten’s Joy, Medaglia d’Oro, More Than Ready, Street Sense, Temple City, Twirling Candy, Uncle Mo, and War Front; and the late stallions Arch, Elusive Quality – the sire of Quality Road – and Scat Daddy.