March 2, 2009

Speed Reigns Supreme

This past Saturday two heralded sophomores reiterated their Derby hopes with convincing wins. A colt named The Pamplemousse made every post a winning one in his six-length romp at 1 1/8 miles, while a more Derby-esque sounding Quality Road blazed the shortened mile distance of this year's Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park with a Beyer rating of 113. Quality Road is likely to face the uber-impressive allowance winner, Dunkirk, on the Gulfstream grounds in the Florida Derby on March 28th. I love the way Quality Road captured the FOY... after pressing a hot pace while being flanked down the backside, he opened up at the top of the stretch and actually "outkicked" a true closer in the Ken McPeek trained Theregoesjojo, who rallied for second as the second choice in the field of ten. Quality Road also has proven Derby bloodlines via his sire, Elusive Quality -- who produced Smarty Jones (2004) -- and damsire Strawberry Road who ran long and strong. Let's hope he got enough out of the one-turn race to do him some good down the road, when it really counts!

In major news out of Dubai over the weekend, Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman injured a tendon in his final pre-race workout and is out of the Triple Crown picture. It's a good thing Street Sense bucked that "juvenile jinx" a couple of years ago or we'd be hearing all about it now.

Also noteworthy, Hall of Fame turf runner Manila passed away at the age of 26. The grandson of Northern Dancer had been serving as the Turkish Jockey Club's top sire for over a decade. Manila's signature moment came in the 1986 Breeders' Cup Turf, where he mowed down turf legend Theatrical en route to an Eclipse award in the male turf division.

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