Augustin Stable's Spring Quality thrived in the longest race of his career, edging Call Provision in deep stretch to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Red Smith for 3-year-olds and up Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, Spring Quality stayed just off 49-1 shot Memories of Peter's early speed, going a quarter-mile in 26.01 seconds with the half in 51.08 on the firm inner turf.
Prado parlayed being part of the pace scenario into a strong surge coming out of the final turn and outkicked Call Provision at the wire for the half-length victory.
“If you look, there was not much speed in the race and this horse, the last time I rode him on the grass [in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker], he showed a little more tactical speed,” said Prado, who won his first graded stakes on a NYRA track since piloting Runhappy in the 2015 Grade 1 King's Bishop. “Today, he broke running, he put himself in a good spot, and I was very happy with the way he was going.
“He was moving easy,” he added. “I didn't push him early; he just took me for a ride through the first part. When we passed the three-eighths pole, I asked him and he gave me a little more. Just keep him going. He's a big horse, he's got a long stride, and that helps him in the stretch.”
Spring Quality, who ran fourth in both his turf and graded stakes debut in the Knickerbocker on October 9 at Belmont, completed 1 3/8 miles in 2:17.72. Trained by Graham Motion, he won for the fifth time in nine starts and now has a stakes victory on both dirt and turf on his ledger after winning the Robellino August 5 at Penn National.
“He [Prado] is a Hall of Famer. We have always had a good rapport,” Motion said. “He has always ridden this horse. This horse is very talented. I probably shouldn't have waited so long to run him on the grass, but he always handled the dirt well, and being by Quality Road, I didn't want to make him into a grass horse, but I have always had a suspicion that this is what he wanted to do at the end of the day.
“I think it [the distance] is no problem for him. I wasn't worried about it, let's put it that way. I am not sure that he needs to have a mile and a half, but I wasn't worried about running him a mile and three-eighths today.”
Off at 12-1, Spring Quality paid $27.20 on a $2 win wager, triggering a Pick 6 carryover. The 5-year-old son of Quality Road increased his career bankroll to $295,797.
Motion said Spring Quality could be in line for a freshening to close out the current campaign before gearing up for 2018.
“I think he can run in the big races next year,” he said. “This horse is very talented.”
Call Provision, trained by Chad Brown, has now finished first or second in his last five races. His stablemate Money Multiplier was fourth, a nose behind Get Jets, who entered having won back-to-back stakes for trainer Tony Dutrow.
Memories of Peter, Messi, Soluble, Oscar Nominated, Hunter O'Riley and Tricked Up completed the order of finish. St. Louie was scratched, as was main-track only entrant Turco Bravo.
The 58th running of the Red Smith was named in honor of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner for distinguished commentary. Smith, a sports columnist, covered many events, including horseracing, in a 55-year career, writing for publications such as the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times.
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