Just eight days prior to the 135th Run for the Roses, major news hit the backstretch and personally threw a major wrench in my handicapping. Quality Road has suffered a new quarter crack on his right front hoof, although, reportedly not as severe as his last one that split on his right rear during his Florida Derby triumph. With Big Brown last year and now this horse, "quarter crack" is giving "stimulus" a push for the most quoted word(s) over the past year -- at least in my world. At worst, he'll be declared out of the race over the weekend and perhaps be mended in time for the classics to follow, or likely by Saratoga's Travers Stakes. At best, his last scheduled workout will be pushed back to Sunday or Monday, not the optimal approach in training regimen for the biggest race of his life!
If he indeed scratches in the coming days, that is a bad thing for all bettors. If you planned on tossing the son of Elusive Quality due to speed/distance concerns, now your horse will be bet down to lower odds. On the flip side, if you liked this horse (like me) and planned on keying him in the exotics, it's time to go back to the drawing board. Even if he gets in the race there will be lingering doubts that will shatter confidence at the betting windows... the VERY LAST thing you want when trying to whittle down a 20 horse field!
So - true to form - we have our first official Derby drama. There are usually one or two candidates that suffer such a fate during the final workout or days leading up to The Derby, so let's hope all else remains calm over the weekend. As always, I'll be keeping you posted and remember -- Derby trivia begins Monday!