Multiple Grade 1 winner QUALITY ROAD is a magnificent example of the Edward P. Evans/Springhill Farm breeding program. Watch for others during the farm’s dispersal at the Keeneland November sale.

With great excitement we announced that QUALITY ROAD would begin his stud career at Lane’s End in 2011, as few stallion prospects capture the imagination like the Ned Evans homebred.

A striking, athletic individual, QUALITY ROAD has made his stamp on racing over the course of three brilliant seasons: three individual track-record-setting performances, four Grade 1 wins, seven overall graded wins ranging in distance from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, and over $2.2 million in earnings.

From the first time he set foot on a racetrack, QUALITY ROAD set himself apart. He won his only start at two, earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in New York in an effort that made the cognoscenti take notice. But he was still an unexposed sort when he entered the one-mile G2 Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream. Despite his inexperience, the big colt gave an inkling of what was to come, ripping through six furlongs in 1:09 2/5 en route to a facile score in 1:35 flat. Said Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch, “When the year began, Quality Road was at or near the top of almost everybody’s list of leading Kentucky Derby candidates. And he will be back there again when the new lists come out this week after registering an impressive 4 1/4-length victory.” In the race, QUALITY ROAD beat the likes of current or future graded winners Capt. Candyman Can, Beethoven, This Ones for Phil, and Break Water Edison.

The G1 Florida Derby was up next for QUALITY ROAD, and he was once again dazzling. Up against the highly regarded Dunkirk, QUALITY ROAD attended a quick pace, then turned back the challenge of his rallying foe to win the nine-furlong event in a track-record 1:47.72. The Blood-Horse’s Steve Haskin was effusive in his praise. “Quality Road’s splits of :23 2/5, :23 2/5, :23 4/5, :24 3/5, and :12 2/5…were extremely impressive,” said Haskin. “And that [was] with John Velazquez sitting chilly on him until challenged by Dunkirk at the top of the stretch. At first it looked as if Velazquez had waited too long to pull the trigger, as Dunkirk had all the momentum and appeared to stick his head in front turning for home. But QUALITY ROAD kicked into another gear, as only top-class horses will do, and drew clear of Dunkirk. For a big, imposing colt to have this kind of speed and the ability to shift gears on a dime, it makes him all the more dangerous. Add to that his toughness, ability to rate, and being able to sustain fractions that will run most horses into the ground, and you have a horse you don’t want to mess with.”

RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCES…

Unfortunately, a quarter crack precluded QUALITY ROAD’s participation in the spring Classics, but he didn’t miss a beat returning to the races in Saratoga’s G2 Amsterdam S. over 6 1/2 furlongs. Hammered down to 4-5 favoritism, QUALITY ROAD broke a step slowly, but rallied wide into the stretch and strode away powerfully to beat next-out Grade 1 winner Capt. Candyman Can by 2 1/4 lengths. QUALITY ROAD stopped the clock in an astonishing 1:13.45, which shaved nearly a full second off the Spa’s existing 6 1/2-furlong mark. Said The Blood-Horse’s Eric Mitchell, “The final time caught some by surprise. Even during the simulcast feed, track announcer John Imbriale said ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we know Quality Road is a particularly fast three-year-old, but I don’t think those times on the board are correct, but we’ll check it out.’ After a hand-timing and then another timing of the replay off the monitor, the record stood, breaking a 30-year-old mark of 1:14 2/5 set by Topsider on Aug. 1, 1979.”

QUALITY ROAD closed out the year with placings over sloppy tracks in the G1 Travers S. and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup against older horses, a race in which he was second, beaten only a length.

QUALITY ROAD was back to his record-setting ways in his second start at four. After beginning the season with a victory in the G3 Hal’s Hope H. at Gulfstream he was the overwhelming 2-5 pick in the prestigious, nine-furlong G1 Donn H. in Hallendale. In arguably the finest performance in the 51-year history of the race–which has been won by the likes of Cigar, Skip Away, Deputy Minister and Forego, and more recently Medaglia d’Oro and Invasor (Arg)–QUALITY ROAD pressed the pace through three quarters in 1:09 3/5, then unleashed a record 12 3/4-length dismantling of eight rivals. Said Andy Beyer, “[T]he pace looked like a potentially suicidal one. But instead of weakening, QUALITY ROAD proceeded to run away from the field, covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.49 and breaking the mark that he had set in the Florida Derby. He ran so fast that he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 121–the best performance in a race at one mile or longer since . . . the Whitney H. at Saratoga in 2005. QUALITY ROAD’s performance change[d] the outlook for the entire racing season.”

Immediately pointed toward the G1 Metropolitan H. at Belmont in May, QUALITY ROAD made it look easy in what’s widely considered one of the most important sire-making races in North America. Despite the nearly four-month layoff, QUALITY ROAD jumped out to lead through what again looked liked suicidal splits of :22 2/5, :45 and 1:08 2/5. But again he defied the scorching pace, streaking home to win the Met Mile in 1:33 flat.

Daily Racing Form’s David Grening put the effort in perspective. “QUALITY ROAD hadn’t been out in 114 days and had just run six furlongs in 1:08.57 in the heat at Belmont Park,” said Grening. “With a quarter-mile left to run in the 117th Metropolitan H., QUALITY ROAD, the 1-4 favorite, had to be as good as advertised in order to win. He was better. With a spank or two from John Velazquez’s whip, QUALITY ROAD pulled away from would-be challenger Musket Man in the stretch to record a 1 1/2-length victory…and confirm his status as the best older male horse in training.” Behind him was a top field that included Musket Man, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness third; as well as Grade 1 winner Warrior’s Reward, and the graded winners Tizway, Le Grand Cru, Kensei, and You and I Forever. Grening added of the final time, “QUALITY ROAD ran a mile in 1:33.11, which equals the second-fastest final time in the 111 years the Metropolitan has been run at a mile. LANGFUHR [1:33.11 in 1997] and Conquistador Cielo [1:33.00 in 1982 when time in hundredths were unavailable] also ran in 1:33 flat. Only Honour and Glory [1:32.81] ran faster. Honour and Glory carried 110 pounds as a 3-year-old when he won in 1996. Quality Road carried 124 pounds, spotting seven pounds to runner-up Musket Man.”

After a game head runner-up effort in the G1 Whitney H. at Saratoga, QUALITY ROAD once again put on a show for Saratoga’s faithful, this time in the G1 Woodward S. He kept close tabs early, then drew off to prevail by 4 3/4 lengths. The win set him up perfectly for a tilt in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs Nov. 5, where it’s anticipated he’ll make his career finale.

A QUALITY PEDIGREE AND THEN SOME…

As the pro-tem leader in the handicap division, QUALITY ROAD is simply living up to his championship pedigree. He is a son of Elusive Quality, a stallion with a reputation of getting “The Big Horse.” Elusive Quality is the sire of Smarty Jones, the dual Classic winner and Champion Three-Year-Old colt. He is also the sire of G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic hero and English Champion sophomore Raven’s Pass, as well as Champion Female Sprinter Maryfield and French juvenile champ Elusive City.

QUALITY ROAD’s female family has plenty of championship form, too. His third dam is Irish Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Highest Trump, by Bold Bidder, who is best known as the sire of Horse of the Year and dual Classic winner Spectacular Bid. As a broodmare, Highest Trump produced two group winners, and is the granddam of the English champion Bahri.

QUALITY ROAD’s second dam is Winglet, a Grade 2 winner in the North America by Alydar. Winglet’s first foal was the accomplished race filly Ajina (Strawberry Road {Aus}), winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, G1 Mother Goose S. and G1 CCA Oaks and named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in 1997. Winglet also produced MGSW Rob’s Spirit (Theatrical {Ire}). That made Quality Road’s dam, Ajina’s full-sister Kobla, a top broodmare prospect when she entered the ring at the 1999 Keeneland November Sale, and it was Evans who saw off all challengers to land her for $1.05 million. It was a steep investment, but one that has paid off in spades in the form of QUALITY ROAD.

IMAGINE GREATNESS…

In the end, breeding is largely about imagination, about what could be, should everything come together as planned. When breeders sit down and map out matings, they often have an idea–or a hope–of what the resulting foal will look like, and what attributes that foal will have. Things like intelligence, size and impeccable conformation; things like unrelenting speed and the ability to carry that speed over a distance of ground; things like toughness, class and longevity. The perfect horse, as we know, is an ideal that perhaps has never existed and perhaps never will. But in striving for the perfect horse, it stands to reason to breed to the closest thing available. In 2012, that means QUALITY ROAD. In November his first in-foal mares will sell.

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