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Quality Road winning the Metropolitan Handicap (Gr1)
(Photo : USA Today - Footage : Belmont Park)
METROPOLITAN HANDICAP (GR1)
One of the most revered races in the American calendar is the Metropolitan (Gr.1), run over a mile at Belmont Park. It’s thrown up any number of top stallions, and is the best mile test of a racehorse in the whole of the United States. Surprisingly, it’s run on a Monday, but these quirks are something that’ve been embedded in the lore of the thoroughbred in different countries for centuries. For example, the English staged the Epsom Derby on a Wednesday for more than 300 years, though more recently it’s come to be a Saturday fixture, now proudly bearing the name of our local banking institution, Investec. The Australians declare a public holiday for their Tuesday celebration of the Melbourne Cup, so Monday is probably an appropriate time for the “Met”.
This years running was won by the best horse seen out so far in America, Quality Road, who landed his second Grade One and his third Graded Stakes of the season with a consummate victory by 1,5 lengths. Like the celebrated Smarty Jones and the world champion miler, Raven’s Pass, he’s a son of the enigmatic Darley Stallion, Elusive Quality, sire too this last season of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah al Maktoum’sRaihana, who under Mike de Kock’s tutelage took the UAE Oaks during the Dubai Carnival. She’s now in the care of David Payne in Australia, and if Mike’s regard for her is anything to go by, she looks set for a big season.
It’s all the stranger then that the Australians have gone “soft” on the progeny of Elusive Quality, but that opens doors for those who understand the stallion’s prowess, and last week our team were the beneficiaries. We nabbed the best specimen we’ve had the pleasure to inspect over the years in Australia and (we’ve seen dozens of them), and he’ll be among a band which includes two Rock Of Gibraltars and a son of the only horse in American history to win a Breeders Cup Juvenile as well as a Kentucky Derby, Street Sense.
On that topic, we bought what is arguably the best draft of horses we’ve ever acquired in that part of the world, and we’re “goosey” with the prospect of presenting them in our draft next April at the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales.