Florida Derby (gr. I)

(gr. I , 9f ,)

QUALITY ROAD (B h, 122 lb) $450,000
Elusive Quality —Kobla , by Strawberry Road (AUS)
B—Edward P. Evans, VA.; O—Edward P. Evans; T—James A. Jerkens

Dunkirk (GR/RO h, 122 lb) $150,000
Unbridled's Song —Secret Status , by A.P. Indy
B—W. Temple Webber Jr., KY.; O—Magnier, Mrs. John, Tabor, Michael and Smith, Derrick; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Theregoesjojo (B h, 122 lb) $75,000
Brahms —Slewie Blues , by Seattle Slew
B—Bob K Sliger, KY.; O—Samotowka Stables, LLC, Delfiner Partners, Krall, George and Magdalena Racing; T—Kenneth G. McPeek

Margins: 1¾, 6, 2½. Others: Stately Character 122($37,500) , Sincero 122($22,500) , Casey's On Call 122($15,000) , Toby the Coal Man 122 . Winning Jockey, John R. Velazquez.

Quality Road took a big step toward possible favoritism in the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a convincing win in the March 28 Blackberry Presents the 58th Running of the Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park. The Elusive Quality colt ran the 11Ú8 miles in track-record time in 1:47.72. He won by 13Ú4 lengths over slight favorite Dunkirk.

Quality RoadÕs Beyer Speed Figure in the Florida Derby was less than the coltÕs Beyer in his last start, the Feb. 28 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at a mile at Gulfstream. Quality Road recorded a 113 in winning the Fountain of Youth and a 103 in the Florida Derby. His time in the Fountain of Youth, 1:35.01, was 1.3 seconds slower than the track record.

Quality Road races as a homebred for Edward P. Evans, who owns Spring Hill Farm near Casanova, Va. Evans is searching for his first Kentucky Derby starter. His late father, Thomas Mellon Evans, won the 1981 Run for the Roses and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with Pleasant Colony, who was voted champion 3-year-old male.

A dozen winners of the Florida Derby, first run in 1952, have won the Kentucky Derby: Needles in 1956, followed by Tim Tam (in 1958), Carry Back (1961), Northern Dancer (1964), Forward Pass (1968), Spectacular Bid (1979), Swale (1984), Unbridled (1990), Thunder Gulch (1995), Monarchos (2001), Barbaro (2006), and Big Brown (2008). Forward Pass was moved to first after DancerÕs Image was disqualified.

Conversely, only three times has a Florida Derby runner-up won the Kentucky Derby. Venetian Way did so in 1960, followed by Cannonade in 1974 and Strike the Gold in 1991.

If Quality Road wins the Derby, he will become the fifth Virginia-bred to win the Churchill classic. Reigh Count won the 1928 Kentucky Derby, followed by Secretariat (in 1973), Pleasant Colony, and Sea Hero (1993).

LaneÕs End as agent consigned Quality Road to the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. Quality Road failed to reach his reserve and was bought back for $110,000. He has earned $632,830.

Quality Road is out of the Strawberry Road mare Kobla, who is a full sister to 1997 champion 3-year-old filly Ajina. Evans bought Kobla for $1,050,000 at the 1999 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Consigned by LaneÕs End, agent for Allen PaulsonÕs Brookside Farms, Kobla was in foal to Mt. Livermore.

Kobla was barren from a 2008 breeding to Tale of the Cat. She has been bred this year to Elusive Quality but has not been pronounced in foal.

Elusive Quality has sired 45 stakes winners. His six added-money winners this year also include grade II winners Royal Michele and True Quality. Elusive Quality stands for $75,000 at Sheikh MohammedÕs Darley, near Lexington.ÑD.S.