DEL MAR, Calif. -- The Usual Q.T. had a six-race winning streak in the second half of 2009 that featured four stakes wins. He may be in the midst of another late-season streak this year.
Saturday at Del Mar, The Usual Q.T. rallied from just off the pace to win the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes by two lengths, his first stakes victory since December and his first win against older horses. The Grade 1 Read was The Usual Q.T.'s second consecutive win, preceded by an allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 27.
The Eddie Read Stakes was The Usual Q.T.'s second win at that level; he won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last November. The Read, though, meant more to trainer Jim Cassidy.
"This year, going against the older horses, it's tough," Cassidy said. "It's the toughest thing in racing. He's had to prove he's as good as the older horses."
"The horses in front of me were going in and out. I thought of taking the short way and going inside, but I waited," Espinoza said. "It was a good thing that I did."
Owned by a partnership, The Usual Q.T. ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.28. "When he got clear, I was happy," Cassidy said.
Victor's Cry, the winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in May, closed from sixth in a field of seven to finish second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Enriched, who was second for much of the race behind pacesetter Acclamation. The English import Crowded House finished fourth, followed by Hyades, Acclamation, and Loup Breton, who had a troubled trip in the stretch.
A gelding by Unusual Heat, The Usual Q.T. has won 8 of 15 starts and $993,320. The Read was his fourth graded stakes win. Last year, The Usual Q.T. won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby and the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes before and after the Hollywood Derby.
Cassidy said The Usual Q.T. will be considered for the Arlington Million at Arlington Park on Aug. 21 if the turf course there is firm. If the turf course is soft, Cassidy said The Usual Q.T. will remain in California, with races such as the $1 million Pacific Classic on the Polytrack synthetic surface on Aug. 28 or the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 29 under consideration.
A start in the Del Mar Handicap would be the longest race of The Usual Q.T.'s career. "If he'll relax, he'll get the distance," Cassidy said.