One of the positive revelations of the 2017 season was the affirmation – generally believed but now thoroughly proven – that the young sire Quality Road is a member of the stallion elite.
On entering stud in 2011, Quality Road was an outstanding prospect. The tall and striking dark horse was one of the very best racing sons of leading sire Elusive Quality (by Gone West), along with double classic winner and champion Smarty Jones, European highweight Raven’s Pass (Breeders’ Cup Classic, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), and Australian champion Sepoy (Golden Slipper, Blue Diamond Stakes). Furthermore, Quality Road comes from a first-class female family and had a sterling racing career that was highlighted by very fast victories at eight and nine furlongs.
In fact, after his Metropolitan Handicap win in 2010, Quality Road was considered the leader of his division until Blame forcibly dethroned him with a narrow victory in the G1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. Then, Blame went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Eclipse Award as leading older colt.
Quality Road entered stud at Lane’s End Farm in 2011 as a horse of exciting potential in a markedly down-beat bloodstock market, and the strongest factors the dark bay son of Elusive Quality had going for him were an outstanding physique and the shocking speed he had inherited from his sire, who is one of the conduits for the Mr. Prospector line through Gone West.
Now, the speed and high class that Quality Road showed on the racetrack have brought him to further glory in his newer role as a sire.
With the victory of City of Light in Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, Quality Road rose a notch to end the year in a tie for first place among all sires of graded stakes winners. With 11 GSWs for the year, Quality Road sits in first place with the late and much lamented sire Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), just one GSW ahead of two heavyweights of the American sire ranks: perennial leading sire Tapit (Pulpit) and Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado), both with 10 GSWs each.
Quality Road actually has more graded victories in 2017 than Scat Daddy, although Tapit and Medaglia d’Oro outrank both on that criterion.
Even so, this is lofty company to be keeping, and Quality Road will be getting further recognition for his sire accomplishments. Among his 3-year-olds of 2017 is the filly Abel Tasman, who is generally considered the most likely champion of her division when the results are announced at the Eclipse Awards later this month.
The sire has a second strong candidate for an Eclipse Award for 2017 with the juvenile filly Caledonia Road, who won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with a dramatic finish that has set her up as the potential champion of her division.
City of Light became the sixth G1 winner for his sire with victory in the Malibu, and the now-4-year-old colt joins Caledonia Road, Abel Tasman (4 G1s: Starlet, Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks), Hootenanny (BC Juvenile Turf), Illuminant (Gamely), and Klimt (Del Mar Futurity) as winners for their sire at the top level.
In particular, the ability to sire performers who are effective at the graded stakes level is the hallmark of the contemporary prestige sire, even if other statistical indicators lag. In these, however, Quality Road is well ahead of the breed norms with 76 percent starters (breed norm of about 60 percent), 51 percent winners (42 percent), and 6 percent stakes winners (3 percent).
Not surprisingly with all these credits, Quality Road is the leading fourth-crop sire, and one of his most impressive statistical accomplishments is having an average earnings index (AEI) of 1.96 from mares with a comparable index of 1.64.
Mares with those numbers for a comparable index are indeed mates of quality, but the fact that the horse has been able to improve on them by 20 percent is a serious statistical advance.
For the 2018 season, Quality Road will stand for $70,000 live foal.
In part due to the continued success that their sire has enjoyed, two sons of Quality Road will enter stud in Kentucky in 2018. These are Klimt, who will be standing at Darby Dan Farm for $10,000, and Hootenanny, who will be standing at Buck Pond Farm near Versailles for $5,000. Furthermore, Quality Road’s son Blofeld, winner of the G2 Futurity Stakes and Nashua at 2, will enter stud at Murmur Farm in Maryland for $4,000 for the 2018 season.
** Note: Some readers have asked about the entering stud fee for Quality Road. The horse went to stud at $35,000 and stood at that price for two years, then was available for $25,000 in his third and fourth seasons at stud, and went back to $35,000 after his stock began performing. For 2018, Quality Road’s fee is $70,000 on the strength of his 2017 season that includes a pair of strong contenders for Eclipse Awards: Abel Tasman and Caledonia Road.