Augustin Stable's Spring Quality, an 18-1 chance in Saturday's Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan, came flying down the far outside to best 5-1 Sadler's Joy by a neck on the wire. Ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, the 6-year-old Quality Road gelding was making just his second start of the 2018 season and 11th start overall. Spring Quality, trained by Graham Motion, covered 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's firm turf course in 1:58.58.
“I hated the post position, but he had a great trip, considering the post,” said Motion, who also won the 2017 Manhattan with 27-1 longshot Ascend. “We felt like there was quite a lot of pace. The one thing we had to do was save ground; that was the most important thing. We saved ground on the first turn and I loved where he was down the backside. He had to swing a little wide coming off the bend, but he's really special. How about two years in a row, winning this race with a long shot? It's pretty crazy.”
Race-favorite at 9-5, Beach Patrol was up near the pacesetters on the backstretch but faded to finish at the rear of the field.
A 48-1 longshot, Hello Don Julio broke on top of the 13-horse Manhattan field, vying for the lead with Hi Happy into the clubhouse turn. Those two traded places several times all the way through the quarter pole, recording fractions of :24.08 and :48.54. Beach Patrol was three-wide in third, while a four-wide Manitoulin kept tabs on the pace as well. Meanwhile, Spring Quality and Sadler's Joy were third- and second-last, respectively, down the backstretch.
Hello Don Julio repelled Hi Happy at the top of the stretch to grab a one-length lead, but he was again challenged in mid-stretch by a whole wave of rivals, including a re-rallying Hi Happy, this time on his outside. Sadler's Joy was flying late and grabbed the lead just before the wire, but Spring Quality's giant strides and a perfectly-timed rally from Prado swallowed him up at the last possible moment to secure a neck victory. Sadler's Joy settled for second, a neck in front of Hi Happy, and Manitoulin was another neck back in fourth.
“He broke OK and I was able to tuck right in and save some ground most of the turn,” Prado said. “When I asked him, he kicked right in. You look at the program (post 13), but when the gate opened, everything changed. I was able to tuck in.”
The remaining order of finish was: Fashion Business, Robert Bruce, Hello Don Julio, Channel Maker, Multiplier, Catcho En Die, One Go All Go, Alexious Komnenos, and Beach Patrol.
Bred in Pennsylvania by George Strawbridge Jr., Spring Quality is out of the Deputy Minister mare Spring Star. He won on debut, but did not try stakes company until his 5-year-old season, winning the listed Robellino Stakes at Penn National in August. Spring Quality won the G3 Red Smith at Aqueduct in November before getting the winter off, and he finished second in the G3 Fort Marcy to kick off 2018. Overall, Spring Quality has won six of his 11 starts for earnings of over $900,000.
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