Updated: Sep 4, 2019
Early Life (2006-2007)
Quality Road ticks every box of the requirements of a good Thoroughbred. Successful on the racetrack? Check. Good career at stud? Check. Good looks? Double check for that impressive mane and forelock.
Before he was hailed as one of Lane’s End Farm’s best stallions, Quality Road was nursing from his dam Kobla on a Virginia farm. The colt by Elusive Quality quickly grew into a handsome yearling. Breeder Edward P. Evans attempted to sell his colt at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, but he RNAd. This was probably a good thing for Evans - Quality Road would go on to earn much more than his $110k reserve.
[Video: Quality Road at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale]
Two-Year Old Season (2008)
Quality Road made his two-year old debut on Nov. 29, 2008 at Aqueduct. The training James Jerkens put him through paid off; Quality Road won on his first asking. It would be the only start of his two-year old season.
Three-Year Old Season (2009)
Quality Road matured into a 16.3hh gorgeous animal. He made his season debut in Florida, finishing second in an allowance at Gulfstream Park after stepping slow at the start.
In his next start, Quality Road would be asked to show what he was made of. He would be stepping up into Grade 1 company for the Fountain of Youth Stakes. It is a huge race for horses on a journey to the Kentucky Derby. The colt proved the huge jump in class to be no problem; he ran away from the field to win by about four lengths.
Jockey John Velasquez was very happy with the colt after the race. He told BloodHorse, "He was ready to run and run today. The closer we got to the finish the stronger I felt we were getting”.
Velasquez wasn’t the only one high on Quality Road after his win. The colt was the bettor’s (narrow) second favorite for the Gr.1 Florida Derby exactly one month later. He again proved himself a winner by edging away from the field, even after coming out on the far turn and having to repel the favorite Dunkirk. The win set a new track record of 1:47.72 for 1 ⅛ miles.
It looked like Quality Road would be one of the top choices for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, fate would not allow Quality Road to compete in the race. He developed a quarter crack after a gallop, causing him to miss his last scheduled breeze.
[Video: Quality Road wins the Gr.1 Florida Derby]
Quality Road finally returned to the work tab on June 8th while still under the care of trainer Jimmy Jerkens. The following week, the colt was transferred to the barn of Todd Pletcher. On August 3, 2009, Quality Road made his highly anticipated return to the races in the Gr.2 Amsterdam Stakes in track record breaking fashion. He finished Saratoga’s six-furlong race in 1:13.45, even after stumbling at the start.
Todd Pletcher spoke to BloodHorse after the win, telling them, "Any time you have a horse with this type of potential, you want him to run well. You want him to run as good as he did for Jimmy. He looked like he stumbled a little at the start…but he ran as well as we wanted him to today."
Less than a month later, Quality Road went back into Gr.1 company for the Travers Stakes. Unfortunately, the colt didn’t perform as well as everyone had hoped. He finished third while the Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird stole the show.
Quality Road ran next in the Gr.1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Again, he faced Summer Bird on a sloppy New York racetrack. At the top of the stretch, Quality Road has his neck in front but Summer Bird was there to challenge him. The two bounded down the stretch together. Quality Road ran his eyeballs out (figuratively, of course), but was unable to defeat Summer Bird.
The two consecutive losses didn’t dampen the respect Quality Road’s connections had for him. He had lost, but not without putting up some sort of fight. Because of this, they entered him into the Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.