Spring Quality comes into the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International off his lowest finish to date. But trainer Graham Motion, who also sends out Mekhtaal in the 1 ½-mile fall classic, has faith his Grade 1 champ will be back at the top of his game on Saturday at Woodbine.
A son of Quality Road, Spring Quality has certainly shown some spring in his step over a 13-race career that has produced six wins, three seconds, a third and close to $1 million in purse earnings.
In his last start, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, on September 29, the bay gelding finished an uncharacteristic seventh.
“He ran very disappointingly, over what was extremely soft ground,” offered Motion. “I don't think he handled it at all. He had never run on ground like that. My inclination is to run him in this race. I kind of geared his whole season towards the fall. He's pretty lightly raced, which makes me feel comfortable running him back fairly quickly.”
Spring Quality netted his first Grade 1 score this June, winning the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes, at Belmont. Last November, the bay was victorious in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap, contested at Aqueduct.
Owned by Augustin Stable, the six-year-old will look to add another graded crown to his race record.
“I have no explanation for he ran the way he did in the Joe Hirsch,” said Motion. “It's the only bad race he's ever run in his life. He seems to have come out of it absolutely fine. Edgar (U.S. Hall of Fame jockey, Prado) said he kind of wrapped up on him after a mile because he just wasn't handling it. He asked him to go on with the favourite and he just couldn't quicken on that kind of turf – he just bogged down.”
Motion, who is crossing his fingers that the rain stays away in the lead-up to the International, has high praise for Spring Quality.
“He's a very nice horse,” said the conditioner. “He's always been very consistent, and he always goes out there and tries. I feel very fortunate to have two very good horses coming to Canada to be in this race.”
Prado, who this year became the eighth North American rider to reach 7,000 career wins, will once again get the call. Prado and Motion are both seeking their first International victories.
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