The leading third-crop sire of 2016, when his oldest foals were 4, Quality Road (by Elusive Quality) has made a good start to 2017 with Guest Suite, winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds racecourse.

Quality Road had a cracking year with his top runners in 2016, which included a trio who won Grade 1 stakes. These were Klimt (Del Mar Futurity), Abel Tasman (Starlet Stakes), and Illuminant (Gamely Stakes), and Guest Suite did his bit for the cause by winning two of his four starts at 2 and finishing third in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs going a mile.

Quality Road showed his very best form going a mile when winning the 2010 Metropolitan Handicap, and he also won the G1 Woodward Stakes and Donn Handicap, plus the Florida Derby at 3, when Quality Road was so highly regarded that he was favored for the Kentucky Derby until sidelined by a foot problem shortly before the big event.

A tall (16.3 hands), lengthy stallion with outstanding presence, Quality Road partakes significantly of the best qualities of his sire Elusive Quality, who has been perhaps the best son of Gone West at stud. Quality Road also gets some important toughness from his broodmare sire, the outstanding Australian racehorse Strawberry Road. The latter won major races around the world and became an important sire in the States as one of the chief stallions at Allen Paulson’s Brookside Farm.

In an outstanding racing career, Quality Road won eight of 13 starts, with three seconds and a third, for earnings of more than $2.2 million. His four G1 victories marked him as a superior stallion prospect, and Quality Road went to stud in 2011 at Lane’s End Farm. His stud fee at Lane’s End for 2017 is $35,000 live foal, which is testimony to the regard that breeders have for the horse.

Guest Suite comes from his sire’s third crop and is one of 11 stakes winners by Quality Road to date.

Bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership, Guest Suite is out of the Ghostzapper mare Guest House. This is the famous female line developed by the breeders over decades of cultivation.

The Farish-Kilroy connection traces back to Lassie Dear, a foal of 1974 by the great Buckpasser (Tom Fool) out of Ashland Stakes winner Gay Missile (Sir Gaylord, a half-brother to Secretariat). They acquired Lassie Dear, won stakes with her, and bred four stakes winners from her, including the Lecomte winner’s third dam, Weekend Surprise (Secretariat).

Guest Suite is the first stakes winner to light up the present generation of this branch of the family, which is still a bit young. Guest Suite is the second foal of his dam and her first winner and stakes winner. The mare has a 2-year-old full sister to Guest Suite who sold at the 2016 Keeneland September sale for $220,000 to Hartley / De Renzo, and we would expect to see her in one of the in-training sales for 2-year-olds later in the spring.

Consigned to the Keeneland January sale in 2016, Guest House sold to Silesia Farm for $100,000 in foal to Noble Mission, a full brother to the great Frankel and a stallion at Lane’s End. Guest House produced a filly by Noble Mission last year and was bred back to Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice (Curlin).

Guest House is one of six winners out of the stakes-winning mare Welcome Surprise (Seeking the Gold), who is one of four stakes winners out of the outstanding Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. Welcome Surprise is a half-sister to classic winner and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) and to classic winner Summer Squall (Storm Bird). Both stood at Lane’s End and were sires of Horses of the Year.

Weekend Surprise was one of a trio of superb stakes-winning daughters of the great Secretariat who produced major stallions. The others were Secrettame (Gone West) and Terlingua (Storm Cat), and such was the prevalence of these sires that we are frequently seeing them intercrossed in pedigrees, including that of Guest Suite.

A progressive 3-year-old with good expectations of producing his form at nine furlongs, Guest Suite will be interesting to watch as he attempts greater challenges on the grand trek to the classics this spring.