The Usual Q.T. Takes the Oak Tree Derby

The gelded son of Unusual Heat wins his first graded stakes.

(edited press release)          

The Usual Q. T. withstood a late charge by favored Battle of Hastings Nov. 7 to gain his fourth straight victory and first in a graded stakes race when victorious by a head in the 40th running of the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita.

With the buzz from Zenyatta’s breathtaking triumph in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic still stirring the crowd of 58,854, The Usual Q. T. negotiated 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:44.48 in the race that closed out the two days of Oak Tree’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The gelded son of standout California sire Unusual Heatwas ridden by Victor Espinoza and dismissed at odds of 10-1 despite a winning streak that included the $125,000 California Cup Mile Handicap in his previous start on Oct. 4.

The Usual Q. T. tracked the early leaders in fourth through brisk opening fractions of :21.67 and :45.58. He gradually improved his position turning for home, took command in midstretch and gamely denied the bid by Battle of Hastings and jockey Tyler Baze. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to third-place No Inflation with Julien Leparoux in the irons.

The winner paid $22.80, $8.20 and $5.80. Battle of Hastings returned $3.80 and $3.20. No Inflation paid $8.60 to show.

“He’s actually getting better and better,” said winning trainer James Cassidy. Said Espinoza, “He was a little keen with me the first quarter mile, but he’s an easy horse to ride. We swung outside turning for home, and he ran unbelievable.”

Winning owners Don Van Kempen, Michael Nentwig, George Saadeh, and Thomas Braden were rewarded with a purse of $90,000 to boost The Usual Q. T.’s earnings to $276,670 from four wins and as many seconds in nine starts.

“The way to keep this horse like he is,” Cassidy said, “and I explained this to the owners earlier, is to space his races out pretty good. We’ve run him once a month, and some people (owners) might get a little aggressive, but he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Cassidy said he would consider the Hollywood Derby on Nov. 29 at Hollywood Park as the next start for The Usual Q. T.