Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Woodbine Mile: A Closer Look at The Usual Q.T.

The expected thirteen horse field for the 2010 edition of the million-dollar Woodbine Mile is littered with group or graded stakes winners such as Court Vision, Victor's Cry, Famous Name and The Usual Q.T.

The Ususal QT wins the GI Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar

(Alex Evers/ EquiSport Photos)

The Usual Q.T is in the midst of a five-race 2010 campaign bookended by a pair of synthetic surface defeats in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. In between those main track starts, The Usual Q.T returned to his preferred turf surface with a fourth-place finish in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) at Meydan Racecourse March 27. After a freshening, he notched an open-allowance win at Hollywood Park on June 27th which set the Don Van Racing charge up perfectly for a G1 win in the Eddie Read over nine furlongs at Del Mar. All eight of his lifetime wins have come on the turf including five at the eight furlong distance he will be expected to manoeuvre under regular rider Victor Espinoza this Sunday.

The official Woodbine Mile micro-site reported the following notes on September 14th:

Trainer James Cassidy figures he's got the right next race for his outstanding double Grade 1 stakes winner, The Usual Q.T.

"The (Woodbine) Mile is certainly right up his alley," said Cassidy about Sunday's 14th edition of the track's $1 million September turf race. "It's a great race for him. He can attend the pace regardless of what the pace is. He has a pretty good move and it seems to be working. He's honest and tries every time."

The Usual Q.T. was expected to arrive at Woodbine late Tuesday, along with the rest of the California contingent for the Mile, Crowded House and Victor's Cry.

The four-year-old son of Unusual Heat is having an outstanding career, with eight wins in 16 starts and earnings of $1,013,320. His wins include the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby and the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort, but he is best known for his dramatic Grade 1 tallies in the Hollywood Derby and the Eddie Read, two starts ago.

"I was really impressed with the Eddie Read," Cassidy said.

Both Cassidy and jockey Victor Espinoza will be looking for their first career wins at Woodbine.

Auteur/Bruce Lunsford/Barbara Minshall/Mike Smith
Court Vision/IEAH Stables & Resolute Group/Rick Dutrow/Robby Albarado
Crowded House/Burrell, Harvey & Reddam/Ben Cecil/Joel Rosario
Famous Name/Juddmonte Farms/Dermot Weld/Pat Smullen
Grand Adventure/Sam-Son Farm/Mark Frostad/Patrick Husbands
Riviera Cocktail/Allen, Cheng & Drysdale/Neil Drysdale/Edgar Prado
Signature Red/Norseman Racing Stable/Sid Attard/Eurico Rosa da Silva
Smokey Fire/Jim Dandy Stable/Sid Attard/Jono Jones
Straight Story/Richard Santulli/Alan Goldberg/Rajiv Maragh
The Usual Q.T./Don Van Racing, Nentwig, Saadeh, Byer/Jim Cassidy/Victor Espinoza
Victor's Cry/Equilete Stable/Eoin Harty/Corey Nakatani
Woodbourne/The Very Dry Stable/Robert Tiller/Chantal Sutherland
Zifzaf/AJ Suited Racing Stable/James Toner/Julien Leparoux

Arrives late Tuesday:
Crowded House
Famous Name
The Usual Q.T.
Victor's Cry

Arrives Thursday:
Court Vision
Straight Story

Arrived Friday:
Riviera Cocktail

Grand Adventure
Signature Red
Smokey Fire

Jim Cassidy - Trainer of The Usual Q.T

(Alex Evers/ EquiSport Photos)

The Usual Q.T's victory in the Eddie Read was impressive and is the most suitable recent result on which to base his chances.

The four year-old gelded son of Unusual Heat had a dream trip in the early going sitting an unchallenged fourth behind the early pace of Acclamation and Enriched through easy fractions of :23.64 and :48.50 and 1:13.08. Jockey Victor Espinoza was faced with a difficult decision turning into the stretch and rather than take the rail he angled four wide into the stretch drive.

Corey Nakatani was more than happy to take the vacant rail path with Victor's Cry and burst into the lead with what seemed a winning move. However, once The Usual Q.T negotiated the turn and straightened out he easily overtook the leader with an impressive turn of foot to win in 1:47.28 over a firm course. The Usual Q.T. remains unbeaten in three starts on the Del Mar turf.

Both the surface and distance of Sunday's Woodbine Mile suit The Usual Q. T., but the question that remains is how well will the horse adjust to the long stretch run of the E.P Taylor turf course.

The Usual Q.T wins the 2010 Eddie Read

The Usual Q.T worked five furlongs handily over the the All Weather Track at Del Mar on September 8th in 1:02.60 with his final prep before leaving for Toronto. His conditioner sported a nifty 50.0 ITM% at Del Mar with six wins, six seconds and a pair of thirds in 28 starts of which 19 (and five wins) were on the turf course.

Jockey Victor Espinoza was not quite as hot as Cassidy winning with 23 of his 218 mounts for a 10.6 WIN%. His 8 turf wins in 63 starts over the weeds made for a slightly better 12.7 WIN%. The Del Mar meet, which ended on September 8th, was dominated by Rafael Bejerano and Joel Rosario and that latter jock is in Toronto on Sunday to steer the improving Crowded House.

The Usual Q.T easily put away Crowded House in the nine furlong Eddie Read but was a well-beaten fifth to second place Crowded House in the Pacific Classic on the synthetic. The Pacific Classic was by no means a poor race for The Usual Q.T but it is well established that the horse is better on the turf.

The Usual Q.T fifth in the Pacific Classic on the Del Mar main track

The Usual Q.T's recent good form is an excellent indicator for handicappers as past performances demonstrate this is a horse that can get hot as proved by a 2009 winning streak of six races, which included a hat trick of graded turf events (G2 Oak Tree Derby, G1 Hollywood Derby, G3 Sir Beaufort), before the synthetic surface loss in the Sunshine Millions. It would be no surprise to see The Usual Q.T begin a new winning streak at Woodbine this Sunday which would include an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The Usual Q.T - He usually wins...

(Alex Evers/ EquiSport Photos)

For a closer look at The Usual Q.T, check out his profile at HorseRacingNation.Com or his Facebook fan page which includes some 292 admirers.

I will be in attendance at Thursday's Woodbine Mile post-position draw and will continue to post these closer-looks leading up to Sunday's big event. Please click on this link for my report on last year's Woodbine Mile entitled Photo Essay: Ventura Victorious in the Woodbine Mile

* * *

The field for the mile and a half Northern Dancer turf is coming together with a strong local presence what includes Mark Frostad's Windwards Islands, Ian Black's Fifty Proof and Roger Attfield's Spice Route. Those three will be in for a tough battle with Marsh Side (four Woodbine wins) and Just as Well (*a contentious second in last year's Northern Dancer) who have previous Woodbine form and Juddmonte shipper Redwood who was second in a recent Group 2 event in France.

Will Just as Well seek justice this Sunday?

* Ron Gierkink notes the following in a recent DRF report regarding the 2009 Northern Dancer:

Marsh Side was disqualified and placed fourth in last year’s Northern Dancer after the stewards ruled he had interfered with two other runners.

That decision was overturned by the Ontario Racing Commission at an appeal hearing this spring, and Marsh Side was reinstated as the winner.

While the racing records reflect that decision, the matter remains unresolved since Jonathan Sheppard, owner and trainer of Northern Dancer runner-up Just As Well, has appealed and the ORC decision is under judicial review in the Ontario court system. Meanwhile, the purse has never been distributed.

Just As Well entered in Parx stakes

Just As Well was nominated to this year’s Northern Dancer but has been entered in Saturday’s $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup at Parx Racing.

The seven-horse field for the President’s Cup also includes the Woodbine-based Rahy’s Attorney, winner of the 2008 Woodbine Mile.

Rahy’s Attorney also was nominated to this year’s Woodbine Mile as was President’s Cup entrant Violon Sacre.

Expansion/Steve Asmussen/Garrett Gomez
Fifty Proof/Ian Black/Justin Stein
Grand Couturier/Robert Ribaudo/Alan Garcia
Just As Well/Jonathan Sheppard/Indefinite
Marsh Side/Neil Drysdale/Edgar Prado
Redwood/Barry Hills/Michael Hills
Spice Route/Roger Attfield/Mike Smith
Windward Islands/Mark Frostad/Chantal Sutherland

The contentious 2009 Northern Dancer won by...?

* * *

As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.

No comments: