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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Speed Over Quality

I was away and/or otherwise indisposed for the holiday weekend, so no track for me. Just caught a couple of races on TV late on Monday, including Quality Road winning the Met Mile. The Toddster's four-year old son of Elusive Quality earned a Beyer figure of 114.

If it looked like this horse was ripe for the catching in the stretch, it's because he was decelerating after an opening half mile in 45.19. Another 23.38 took him to six furlongs in 1:08.57, after which he was able to repel Musket Man despite tiring to 24.54 for his final quarter. Those are pretty good splits still as far as these races go, and the final time of 1:33.11 is excellent; one of the fastest times in the race's illustrious history. But he ran his first half in 45.19 and his second half in a shade under 48. I think there's something distinctly American about the appeal for horses courageously holding on at the end after burying its opposition with high early speed while conceding them weight, as Quality Road did. But it just seems counter-intuitive to me that the last part of a race is the slowest part; aesthetically unappealing too.

This is one of the ways that I personally feel that synthetic surfaces are to the distinct benefit of the everyday sport. I just don't get the fascination with raw speed when horses can't sustain it much past a half mile. Of course, I don't mean to detract from Quality Road; that's the game on dirt in America, and full credit to a horse who has won G2 and up stakes from 6 1/2 to nine furlongs. But I've seen his effort referred to as "other-worldly," and "masterful, breathtaking." To each their own, but I just don't get all that excited about a race that's run like that.

I also saw the 8th race, and man, you have my sincere condolences if you had Who Is Lady, at 6-1. Doesn't get much tougher than that as far as losing the head bob goes. Five-year old daughter of Freud was a winner a half stride before or after the wire; but Wild Awake had her nose down at the right time. Who Is Lady doesn't get to the winner's circle often, and this was her 4th second in her last five outings.

Nonetheless, another sharp runner for trainer Mike Miceli, four winners and two seconds from eight starters at the meet; 30% from 37 starters on the year. Two of those wins are accounted for by Minnie Punt, including his rousing win in the state-bred Kingston Stakes on Sunday. Dead last at the top of the stretch after encountering traffic, this effeminately-named gelded son of Gold Fever, out of a Rubiano half-sister to the crack sprinter Cherokee County, straightened out and ran by 'em all, doing his best running at the end, the way racing should be. Honestly, I get more of a thrill watching that race than the Met Mile, the fact that they are NY-breds notwithstanding.


Teresa said...

Yeah, I probably got a little carried away. was pretty impressive.

Anonymous said...

Quality Road is a brilliant horse and he deserves accolades for the performance. While it is premature to put him in all-time great status, it would be nice if he can hang around for a while because he is a tremendous talent. If he retired now, he'd be just another good horse whose career ended too soon, like a Discreet Cat. I will say the way he laughed at a nice horse in Mustket Man who had dead aim and 8 lbs was pretty impressive. I'll still bet against him at 10 panels if he makes it to the BC tho. -jp

Larrykennethadams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve in nc said...

Ya gotta diversity, Alan. I loved watching Forego, but I also loved watching Bold Forbes. Both were amazing.

How cool would it be if QR and Zen were to meet in good health & form later this year? Like Anon, I'd have to go with Zen at 10 furlongs. But at the uniquely American route distance of 9 furlongs????

steve in nc said...

Oops, make that "diversify."

ballyfager said...

Alan, I think we've had this difference in perception before but, a horse who runs six in 1:08 and change doesn't have to apologize for coming home in 24/2.

I didn't see the race or check the times of the other races but, on the face of it, this is an outstanding performance. Quality Road is the best horse in training, period.

alan said...

>>I loved watching Forego, but I also loved watching Bold Forbes.

Ah, Bold Forbes' Belmont. OK, I'll give you that one!

El Angelo said...

Quality Road is very reminiscent of Congaree: brilliant speed, tough at a lot of distances, but questionable at 10 furlongs under tough circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I was out there and there was quite a buzz when he began to open up (yes, there were fannies in the seats and on the apron) and nice applause afterward when he returned.

Demographically the youngest "crowd" I have seen other than on Belmont Day.

Both good to see.

Anonymous said...

Best horse in training?

You must not follow racing much. It shows.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Alan. I had "Who is Lady" and that was one tough beat. What made it worse was the guys at TVG calling Lady the winner. I hate when people do that. Reminding me of the Tampa Bay Derby with Odysseus and School Yard Dreams. Also, Colonel John and Mambo in Seattle.

ballyfager said...

I thought you were gone Dirty. Anything negative you say about me I take as a compliment since it's obvious you don't know the first thing about horseracing.

Football season will be here soon enough. That's where you belong.

Anonymous said...

Quality Road: 6 Beyers over 110.
Zenyatta: 1.


Anonymous said...

Some of you guys have to come back to earth. Gave Musket Man 8 pounds? Quality Road only carried 124 which is less than 3yo's will carry Saturday going a mile and a half.
In Forego's 4 Metros he averaged 133 1/4 pounds. Maybe it is premature to put him(QR)in the all time great status.

Anonymous said...

It's subjective, really. Quality Road has been the more brilliant performer, but Zenyatta is 16 for 16. In the one race they were to meet, Quality Road took a spaz outside the starting gate and had to be scratched. Zenyatta won the fricken race. So basically, it's a debate that can't really be "won," unless they meet and even then it won't be decided. I'd take Zenyatta at 10f+ but Quality Road at any of the shorter distances. -jp

Teresa said...

Oh, jp, did you really say that Musket Man had "dead aim" at him?

alan said...

Worthy of further discussion to be sure, but my short opinion is that Zenyatta would clean his clock at a mile and a quarter. He's failed twice at that distance, beaten by Summer Bird, who I am not a big fan of at all. Shorter than that, I'd love to see.

El Angelo said...

FWIW, I agree with Alan that Zenyatta would probably win, but disagree that you can hold his two 1 1/4 races against him. His Travers was over a muddy bog and he came in with one prep race at 6 1/2 furlongs, and to me is meaningless. His JCGC was very good--110 Beyer, I believe--and while you're entitled to your opinion that Summer Bird isn't all that, it was still a very good effort.

alan said...

Yeah, I know you're right, El Ang. Just wanted to get that dig in about Summer Bird. :)

Anonymous said...

Why yes, Teresa, that's exactly what I said. Go back and watch the race. Musket Man made a nice move and tipped out at the 3/16ths pole. He had a lot of momentum. Unfortunately he was chasing a monster. Are we really going to have a debate now about what the term "dead aim" means? -jp

Anonymous said...

I was live with Musket Man for a decent DD and thought he was going to blow right by QR, but QR showed his quality and dug down to hold him safe.

As the year goes on, folks will realize how good this race was, Musket Man is going to be one of the top horses in the division.

alan said...

I agree, I thought MM was going to win for a moment too. But he had to run around 1:09 flat just to stay within striking distance. So I'd guess it was a combination of him flattening out and QR digging in. I dunno, maybe a real quality deep closer with a real patient rider could have reeled him in?

Anonymous said...

Heard a little rumor that GoGo go is on Go Fast after losing LAL and is gonna GoBack to Rehab. He's named to ride at Monmouth Friday, so we'll see.

Teresa said...

jp, I was commenting on your pun (which was obviously unintentional), not your race analysis. Rest assured that I know what "dead aim" means, both literally and figuratively.

tvnewsbadge said...

"Anonymous said...
Best horse in training?

You must not follow racing much. It shows.


then the folks at the IFHA must not follow racing much either. They have Quality Road ranked #1 in the world.

Anonymous said...

heh heh, Teresa. I get it now! D'oh. -jp

Anonymous said...


You're proving your point by using a rating system that gave Zenyatta a 128 rating last year. Quality Road's rating this year is 126 (which came in the Donn anyways). Zenyatta has only gotten better, winning easily in both starts. So if Quality Road's rating beats a number that is either 128 or better you're right. But it doesn't. So you're wrong.

And they rated Rachel as 127 last year. Zenyatta would blast her easy. Stop worrying about somebody else's ratings and watch for yourself.

Also, Summer Bird was rated 123 last year and beat you as well.

Watch more, read less.


tvnewsbadge said...

Nice try, Dirty, but no cigar.

If you'll note, this is *2010*, NOT 2009.

And while Zenyatta's BC Classic was certainly a race for the ages, what as they say, has she done for us lately?

The fact is, in the opinion of folks who actually WATCH the races with their EYES and NOT with their HEARTS like yourself, clearly not as much as Quality Road.

And please note, even at 128 inm 2009, the BEST Zenyatta did on the WORLD stage in 2009 was #4. QR is #1.

This is not to say that Zenyatta might not ultimately prove to be the better horse ( I suspect she will) or that the ranking will change as the season goes on and the champions around the world show their stuff.

But the fact is, at THIS point in time, *IN JUNE 2010*, Quality Road has done more to prove his worth than Zenyatta, as anyone who, again, ACTUALLY WATCHES the races with their EYES and NOT their hearts will tell ya.

If the Zenyatta fans aren't comfortable with that, instead of trashing a champion horse, perhaps they should be pressuring Jerry moss to step up to the plate to let Zenyatta show what she's really capable of instead of choosing ONLY those races that will guarantee her unbeaten record will continue.

Again, nice try, but no cigar.

Anonymous said...


Qualtity Road's ranking came in the Donn, meaning it is old, much like Zenyatta's BC (which was still rated higher, I see that's hard for you to understand.)

My point was that the ratings are arbitrary and don't really mean shit. In your reply you mentioned the ratings again, as if they are some crucial evidence I missed before. They don't matter period.

If you're gonna live by the numbers, die by them too.

QR 126 Zen 128

I can easily ignore them. You can't because because you're a Virginia homer who finally has something to root for...

One final note, a quick search of ballyfager or tvnewsbadge will toss me hundreds of blogs with you two telling everybody how your *wrong* opinions are "obviously right" "fact" or "clear to anybody." And you fuckers apparently know everything from real estate to horses to finance to politics to nature.

If you guys paid attention to horses as much as you blogged I might listen....


tvnewsbadge said...

"If you guys paid attention to horses as much as you blogged I might listen....


Son, you miss the point.
It's never about getting your kind to listen, but to share information with folks who might be interested in points of view other than those expressed by foul mouthed trolls.

The fact is, agree with them or not, the IFHA rankings make for very interesting reading for true fans of the sport, and it's a resource I'm sure many people in the United States are unaware of.

Of course, to get anything out of them, you have to realize that they are a snapshot of a specific time frame and not meant to reflect a horse's entire racing career.

While you are right that the BC Classic does trump the Donn, if you check the dates, you'd have seen that the Classic is not within the time frame of these latest rankings.

For the purpose of these ranking it's the Santa Margarita vs the Donn, and I'm sure even fair minded Zenyatta fans would agree that Quality Road's record setting effort in the Donn trumped Zenyatta's effort in the Santa Margarita;

The IFHA got it right.

Of course the season is young, there will be many changes at the top as the year wears on.

And I'm sure fans of both horses will be VERY interested to see how the world views Zenyatta's Apple Blossom against Quality Road's Met Mile.

It's a very interesting site.

Anonymous said...


You're right about the site and the rankings. I actually spent quite some time looking at them, and truth be told I actually quoted those ratings last year in a Zenyatta vs. Rachel argument.

Zenyatta's 5 wide open gallop in the Apple Blossom is kinda hard to rate don't you think?


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the TG guys have QR's Donn as their fastest race ever calculated (a -7 1/2).