In breeding, quality counts. Young sires have the best chance to “make it” when they are sent good race mares from top families. It’s a simple idea and breeders and buyers know to pay attention to the quality of mares a young stallion gets. There is, arguably, no greater precursor for success.

That bodes well for Ned Evans’s homebred QUALITY ROAD, the four-time Grade 1 winner and brilliant multiple-track-record setter who attracted an equally brilliant first book of mares in 2011. Underscoring that fact is a recent survey undertaken by The Blood-Horse’s MarketWatch, which pegged QUALITY ROAD’s first book with a class performance index (CPI) of 5.01. That’s a huge number–better than fellow freshman Blame, Eskendereya and Super Saver, and of established sires like More Than Ready, Arch, Sky Mesa, etc.

With the full weight of Evans’s Spring Hill Farm behind him, QUALITY ROAD was the leading freshman covering sire last year. Mares in foal to the G1 Met Mile hero averaged $283,208, which put him on top of not only his fellow freshman by a wide margin, but which was better than the averages of mares in foal to Unbridled’s Song, Elusive Quality, Arch, Speightstown, etc.

QUALITY ROAD’s high covering sire average had everything to do with the quality of his first book, which numbered 149 mares (he had a sterling 93% fertility rate). They included such Grade 1 winners as Light Jig (GB) (Danehill), Raging Fever (Storm Cat), Runup the Colors (A.P. Indy), Stormy Pick (Storm Creek), Summer Colony (Summer Squall), and the gutsy champion Xtra Heat (Dixieland Heat).

Also included were such Grade 2 winners as Megans Bluff (Pine Bluff), Classic Elegance (Carson City), Colonial Minstrel (Pleasant Colony), Go Go (Falstaff), Hello Liberty (Forest Camp), Last Approach (Far Out East), and Tap Dance (Pleasant Tap).

That group in itself would give a young sire a big head start at stud. But QUALITY ROAD’s book was much deeper than that. He covered a total of 68 stakes mares, 63 mares who have already produced a black-type horse, and 88 mares out of stakes horses. A full 124 mares were half- or full-siblings to stakes horses.

Some of the very best families in the stud book are represented in QUALITY ROAD’s first book. He covered the $2.3 million broodmare Weekend Strike (SMART STRIKE), half-sister to Breeders’ Cup winner Court Vision and from the immediate family of A.P. INDY. He covered the $1.5 million broodmare Dark Sky (Storm Cat), a full-sister to MG1SW Nebraska Tornado. He covered the dam of SAINT LIAM, and he covered Delta Music (Dixieland Band), the stakes-winning daughter of Broodmare of the Year Prospectors Delite, dam of our own Horse of the Year MINESHAFT.

In the winter and spring of 2012, the produce from those matings hit the ground, and breeders are raving. WinStar CEO Elliot Walden said the farm’s QUALITY ROAD colt from the Saratoga stakes winner Dorm Fever is a standout. “This colt has all the size, scope and athleticism of his sire,” said Walden. “We like the foal so much we bought a share in the stallion!”

Wick Hughes, assistant farm manager at Shawnee Farm, had a similar assessment of their QUALITY ROAD filly out of SW & GSP Double Scoop, herself a daughter of G1SW Golden Treat. “This is a lovely foal,” he said. “She is well muscled, has great bone and is a very balanced individual. We are very pleased with the results of this mating.”

At Denali Stud, farm manager Gary Bush talked about a stylish filly by QUALITY ROAD out of Dove Cry, dam of SW Sleeping Indian and a half to G1SW Student Council (KINGMAMBO). “This was the only QUALITY ROAD foal we were expecting at Denali Stud this year, and we were not disappointed,” said Bush. “This filly has size and balance. We are off to a great start!”

And the enthusiastic reviews continue to pour in. It doesn’t take a particularly keen imagination to envision these horses making a huge impact when they hit the track in 2014. For now consider buying one of his weanlings this fall at the breeding stock sales.

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