Last year, trainer Graham Motion sent Ascend to the Grade I Arlington Million following an upset victory in Belmont Park's Grade I Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes and will likely do the same this year with Spring Quality.
Owned by Augustin Stable, the 6-year-old son of leading Grade I sire Quality Road scored a victory in the Manhattan at 18-1 odds defeating a competitive field that included last year's Arlington Million winner Beach Patrol.
“He ran such a big race going a mile and a quarter in the Manhattan so it makes the most sense to give him another try in a million-dollar race at the distance,” Motion said.
Never worse than fifth in 11 career starts, Spring Quality also owns stakes victories in last year's Robellino Stakes at Penn National as well as the Grade III Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct. In the Manhattan, Spring Quality came from well off the pace which was a bit of a change in tactics from his usual running style where he would sit right off the pace.
“I think he is adaptable from a pace standpoint,” Motion said. “The difference being when he ran in the Manhattan he had sort of a lousy post (13). For that reason, Edgar [Prado] had to ride him a bit differently.”
Last year, Ascend ran once in between the Manhattan Handicap and Arlington Million when he ran in the Grade II Bowling Green Handicap at Saratoga, where he finished fifth. Motion said that Spring Quality would likely train up to the Million should he chose to run there.
“Both horses I've had to be a little patient with but talent wise they're very similar,” Motion said.
Motion went on to say that Just Howard is a possibility for the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Handicap. Owned by Skeedattle Associates, Maryland-bred son of English Channel won three stakes events at Laurel Park last year, including the Grade III Commonwealth Derby. The 4-year-old colt finished third in the Grade III Dixie Stakes at Pimlico in his most recent outing.
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