The Usual Q. T., whose current five-race winning streak includes victories in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) and Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) last month, is the clear standout in the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIIT) on opening day at Santa Anita Dec. 26.
The Sir Beaufort, at one mile on grass for 3-year-olds, is a supporting feature on a big day of racing at Santa Anita that includes a pair of grade I events -- the La Brea for 3-year-old fillies and the Malibu, also for sophomores. A field of nine is to contest the Sir Beaufort, which is the seventh event on a 10-race program.
Since being switched full time to the turf by trainer James Cassidy in the summer at Del Mar, The Usual Q. T., a California-bred son of Unusual Heat, has been unbeatable. With Victor Espinoza, who will be aboard once again, The Usual Q. T. scored by a head over Battle of Hastings in the nine-furlong Oak Tree Derby Nov. 7. The bay gelding returned three weeks later to defeat Battle of Hastings again, this time by 1 1/2 lengths, in the 10-furlong Hollywood Derby.
Owned by Don Van Racing and partners, The Usual Q. T. likes to stalk from slightly off the pace and charge home in the stretch. The bay has been a gem of consistency in his 10-race career, winning five times and finishing second in four others. He has earned $456,670.
The Usual Q. T. carries top weight of 122 pounds. Among his rivals in the Sir Beaufort are Massone and Pleasure to Ride.
Massone, trained by Ron McAnally for Frankfurt Stable, has won just twice in 17 races, including six graded starts, but has five seconds and six thirds in his career. In his most recent start, the son of Menifee was two lengths behind The Usual Q.T. in the Oak Tree Derby, finishing fourth. In two dirt tries before that, he was second in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park Oct. 11 and third in the Louisiana Downs' Super Derby (gr. II) in September.
Halo Farms' Pleasure to Ride, a son of Candy Ride trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, debuts in graded stakes company after running first or second in his last seven starts. He was beaten a nose by Sir Beaufort rival Riviera Cocktail in Hollywood Park's Contested Bid Stakes at one mile on turf Dec. 5.
Riviera Cocktail, a Giant's Causeway colt from the Neil Drysdale barn, has won two of four U.S. starts since transferring from France over the summer. This will be his graded stakes debut as well.
Gallant Son, who won four races in a row at Emerald Downs earlier in his career, took the Pasadena Stakes over the Santa Anita grass course in March for trainer Frank Lucarelli. He has not been to the post since finishing last of seven in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4.
$100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 7, 2:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Gallant Son (KY), M E Smith, 118, F Lucarelli
2. Tamborim (FL), J Rosario, 118, D E Hofmans
3. Mr. Rod (KY), C Sutherland, 118, D L Hendricks
4. Quoted (FL), A Quinonez, 118, D F O'Neill
5. Massone (KY), G K Gomez, 118, R L McAnally
6. The Usual Q. T. (CA), V Espinoza, 122, J M Cassidy
7. Riviera Cocktail (KY), J Talamo, 118, N D Drysdale
8. Pleasure to Ride (KY), A O Solis, 120, J Hollendorfer
9. Brenthurst (KY), M A Pedroza, 118, J Armstrong
Blinkers On: Gallant Son