Apparently, one upset victory in the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1T) was not enough for trainer Graham Motion.
One year after sending out Ascend to victory in the 2017 Manhattan, Spring Quality rallied through the middle of the inner course June 9 at Belmont Park to win the 1 1/4-mile race by a neck over Sadler's Joy. It was another neck back to Hi Happy in the blanket finish.
Augustin Stable's Spring Quality, a homebred son of Quality Road , earned the first grade 1 victory of his career in his first try at the top level. Bred in Pennsylvania out of the Deputy Minister mare Spring Star, he improved his record to 6-3-0 from 11 starts.
"How about two years in a row winning this race with a long shot?" Motion said. "It's pretty crazy."
Guided by Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, Spring Quality started from the outside in the field of 13 and completed the test in 1:58.58. Motion said despite the outside post, Prado did a great job of getting an inside position early.
"The one thing we had to do was save ground; that was the most important thing," Motion said. "We saved ground on the first turn and I loved where he was down the backside. He had to swing a little wide coming off the bend, but he's really special."
"He broke OK, and I was able to tuck right in and save some ground most of the turn," Prado said. "When I asked him, he kicked right in. You look at the program (post 13), but when the gate opened, everything changed. I was able to tuck in."
Early in the Manhattan, Hi Happy and longshot Hello Don Julio dueled through a half-mile in :48.54 and six furlongs in 1:12.01, with favorite Beach Patrol and longshot Manitoulin racing just behind them. Turning for home, grade 1 winner Sadler's Joy rallied to the lead in the stretch under Javier Castellano, but Spring Quality was moving even better outside of him.
Let go at odds of 18-1, Spring Quality returned $38, $15.80, and $9.40. Sadler's Joy paid $6.60 and $4.40, and Hi Happy returned $4.30. The order of finish was completed by Manitoulin, Fashion Business, Robert Bruce, Hello Don Julio, Channel Maker, Multiplier, Cacho En Die, One Go All Go, Alexios Komnenos, and Beach Patrol.
"Tough beat," Castellano said. "He ran such a good race. I like the way he did it today. Unfortunately, we got beat by a longshot. He came from way back. ... In those kind of races, you've got to be lucky and get the bob."