Edward P. Evans’ 4-year-old homebred colt Quality Road
won the Florida Derby (G1) last season at Gulfstream Park to be widely-regarded as the
early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1), and returns this year as the strong
favorite to capture the most prestigious race for older horses on the South Florida racing calendar in Saturday’s
$500,000 Donn Handicap (G1).
Regular rider John R. Velazquez will be back aboard the
Virginia-bred son of Elusive Quality facing seven rivals in the 52nd edition of
the 1 1/8 miles Donn for trainer Todd Pletcher in his second start of the year
after an impressive 2 ¾ lengths victory in the Hal’s Hope (G3) going a mile
here on Jan. 3.
Quality Road won the Fountain of Youth prior to the Florida
Derby for trainer Jimmy Jerkens before his Triple Crown campaign aspirations
were precluded by nagging problems with his feet. Transferred to Pletcher for
the second half of the season, Quality
Road set a track record
winning the Amsterdam Stakes (G3) at Saratoga
in late August in his first start since the Florida Derby on Mar. 28.
Again, the imposing colt faced adversity finishing third in
the Travers Stakes (G1) at the Spa and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont
both run over ‘sloppy’ tracks that likely didn’t play to his best. And to
round-out the year, the unfortunate incident while attempting to load for the
Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 which caused his being
Four of Quality
Road’s rivals in a
field of 10 come out of the ‘off the turf’ Fort Lauderdale Stakes going a
one-turn mile over a ‘sloppy’ track on Jan. 10. Alex and JoAnn Lieblong and
partners’ Duke of Mischief won by a neck over Hardacre Farm’s Kiss the Kid who
was second while Quantum Racing Team #1’s Mambo Meister finished third with
Carol Nyren’s Dry Martini fourth, the latter beaten only two lengths for it all.
Jockey Eibar Coa will be back aboard 4-year-old Duke of
Mischief for trainer David Fawkes after his very good effort in the Fort
Lauderdale, his first start
since finishing seventh as the favorite in the Ohio Derby (G2) at Thistledown
on Oct. 11. The chestnut son of Graeme Hall posted his most important victory
winning the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows in late June by five lengths.
Kiss the Kid is a highly versatile 7-year-old Lemon Drop
Kid horse trained by Amy Tarrant for owner Hardacre Farm. ‘The Kid’ won the
Appleton Stakes (G3) on turf here last year, finished a game second by a neck
in the Meadowlands Cup (G2) in mid-October. His career bankroll of $760,000 is
almost equally divided between turf and main track races.
Kiss the Kid ran a very big race to finish fourth behind
Kip Deville in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) last year, beaten only 1 ½
lengths, on the day after Shadwell Farm’s Albertus Maximus won the Donn
Handicap. Jockey Eddie Castro will have the mount on Kiss the Kid.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on Mambo Meister
for trainer Phil Gleaves, who has opted for his chances in the Donn rather than
the Gulfstream Park Turf Saturday afternoon. The highly versatile 5-year-old
gelding by King Cugat won a pair of overnight stakes on turf at Calder in the
spring, but made his last three starts on main tracks.
Mambo Meister earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup when he won
the Spend a Buck Handicap (G3) at Calder on Oct. 17. Three weeks later he
finished a game fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on the synthetic
track at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, beaten only two lengths with trouble in the
Dry Martini is a 7-year-old gelding that boasts solid
credentials in major main track events, his most recent victory coming in the
Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont
on July 4. Trained by Barclay Tagg, Dry Martini boasts earnings of $1.2 million
and finished second to It’s a Bird in the Sunshine Millions Classic here early
A definite threat in the field on one of his best days
would be P.A.R.J. Stable’s 6-year-old gelding Delightful Kiss with jockey Juan
Leyva back aboard for trainer and co-owner Pete Anderson. The charismatic
roan/gray gelding by Kissin Kris finished an even third in a seven-furlong
allowance race here on Jan. 22, his first start since the Canadian Turf (G3)
last year on Feb. 28.
Delightful Kiss had outstanding seasons as a 3-year-old in
2007 when he won the Iowa Derby and Ohio Derby (G2) and in 2008 when he found
his best stride in log-distance events, climaxed by a strong fourth-place
effort in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita and runner-up finish behind
Einstein in the Clark Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs when campaigning for
breeder Hobeau Farm.
Completing the field for the Donn are Edmund Gann’s You and
I Forever, Elvis Trujillo; Darley Stable’s Past the Point, Edgar Prado; Four
Roses Thoroughbreds’ Helsinki,
Robby Albarado; and Mr. Amore Stable’s Dubai Gold, Jose Lezcano.