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Feb 12, 2010

Quality Road captures Donn Handicap



Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Odds-on favorite Quality Road won Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and in the process broke his own track record for 1 1/8 miles.

The four-year-old covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.49, breaking the old mark of 1:47.72 he set in last year's Florida Derby.

The four-year-old stalked the pace being set by Past the Point. Jockey John Velazquez moved the 2-5 favorite to the lead on the final turn and began to run away from his eight rivals through the stretch.

In his second start of 2010, Quality Road posted a 12 3/4-length victory over Dry Martini. Delightful Kiss finished third and was followed by Mambo Meister, Helsinki, Past the Point, Kiss the Kid, Duke of Mischief and Dubai Gold.

You and I Forever was scratched from the race.

Owned by Edward Evans and trained by Todd Pletcher, Quality Road made a successful return to the races on Gulfstream's opening day last month by winning the $100,000 Hal's Hope Stakes. He has now won six of nine career starts for more than $1.3 million.

"He's been training great, and he's doing very well. Everything's gone according to plan," Pletcher said prior to the race. "I think the Hal's Hope was a good comeback race for him. It was a solid effort but not a career best and not a taxing race for him. I feel like he's training the best he ever has for this."

Last year, along with the Florida Derby, Quality Road won the Fountain of Youth Stakes. After missing the Kentucky Derby with an injury the colt came back in August at Saratoga where he won the Amsterdam and finished third to Summer Bird in the Travers.

He again lost to Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in October when he was runner-up. Quality Road had to be scratched from the Breeders' Cup Classic last November when he refused to be loaded into the starting gate.

Quality Road returned $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Dry Martini paid $6.20 and $4.20, and Delightful Kiss paid $4.80 to show.

Earlier at Tampa Bay Downs, Musket Man had a successful four-year-old debut by winning the $75,000 Super Stakes. The colt was making his first start since finishing third to Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness Stakes last May.

Trained by Derek Ryan, Musket Man recorded his sixth career win in nine starts. Daniel Centeno guided his mount through the seven-furlongs in 1:23.10 over a fast track.

Musket Man broke well from the gate but found himself four wide up the backstretch and into the far turn. He had a short lead over Guam Typhoon at the top of the stretch and was able to hold off the challenger to win by a half-length.

"He was only about 70 percent cranked," said owner Eric Fein. "I knew how good he was. I was nervous as usual, but I had tremendous confidence. We came back to Tampa Bay Downs for a few reasons: number one, I've had good luck here; and number two, he loves the track."

As a three-year-old, Musket Man won the Tampa Bay and Illinois Derbies and was third in the Kentucky Derby as well as the Preakness. He now has career earnings of $923,600.

Musket Man, the 2-5 favorite, paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Guam Typhoon returned $3.2 and 0$2.40, and Chief Talkeetna paid $4.00 to show.

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