Equibase Analysis: Can Anyone Top Undrafted In Elusive Quality Stakes?

The 5th running of the $125,000 Elusive Quality Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park brings together a field of 10 accomplished turf runners but it appears Undrafted, who has earned more than $1 million in his career, may be the one to beat. Winner of seven races on grass in his career, Undrafted earned the biggest win of his career in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot Race Course in England in the summer of 2016 and won his 2017 comeback as well.

Kharafa is the other millionaire in the field and finished second in last year’s edition of this race so must be respected particularly as he has been first or second in 25 of his 45 career races. Conquest Panthera has credentials to run well too as he won the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality last summer. Commute missed by a nose in a similar race last summer, the Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes and may be effective while Commend is reunited with jockey Jose Ortiz, who rode the horse to a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint last September.

Blind Ambition won the Quick Call Stakes on the turf course at Saratoga last summer and is another who may be competitive if repeating that kind of effort. Field of Courage won the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes on turf at the shorter distance of six furlongs last October and is another with every right to run well.

Great Stuff won the Grade 3 Toboggan Stakes on dirt at the distance of the Elusive Quality in January and is trying turf for the first time in the 29th start of his career. Ready for Rye won the Quick Call Stakes and Allied Forces Stakes in 2015 but his only win since then came last June and he is winless in six races since then. Great Wide Open (IRE) won at a mile on the grass last month at Fair Grounds and goes for his first stakes win.

Undrafted is an exceptional turf sprinter who comes back from nearly six months off, which is not an issue as he won last year in April following a layoff of the same length. That win in 2017 earned a strong 112 Equibase Speed Figure which he bettered when last seen in November, winning a turf sprint with a 115 effort. Joel Rosario gets the call and rode Undrafted in that 2017 comeback win so he knows how to get the horse to relax and makes his patented late run from far back. Although no races at the seven furlong distance of the Elusive Quality Stakes appear in his recent history, Undrafted has won a mile on the grass in his career so there are no questions about being capable of the distance. Trainer Wesley Ward is having an exceptional 2018 to date, wining more than one-quarter of his 125 races so far. With a pattern of very consistent workouts coming into the race at the trainer’s home base in Kentucky, including the last two on the grass, Undrafted looks ready to earn the ninth win of his career in this year’s Elusive Quality Stakes.

Conquest Panthera may come in under the radar of many bettors, making his second start of 2018 and with a non-threatening fifth place finish in his comeback effort last month. However, Conquest Panthera was asked to run a mile following nearly five months off and ran very well in spite of the layoff as he moved up from eighth in a field of nine to get within a length and one-half in the stretch before tiring. Not only should he be more physically fit in his second start off the layoff, but the cut back in distance should help sharpen up his closing kick. Last summer, Conquest Panthera won the Play the King Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality and he earned a career best 121 Figure when third in the Turf Sprint Championship Stakes last fall so his best effort is certainly good enough to win.

Commend has finished first or second in seven of 14 career races. 13 of those have been on the turf including a runner-up effort when beaten a half-length in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint last summer. Freshened two months since a poor sixth place finish in the Colonel Power Stakes, Commend is reunited with Jose Ortiz, who rode him to victory last May on the Belmont turf course then two races later last summer at Saratoga. The 110 figure Commend earned in the Turf Sprint was a career best and as the horse put in a very solid workout less than two weeks ago that was the best of 37 on the day, we might expect a top effort in this race.

Commute makes his second start following nine months off, having rallied from eighth to fourth in the Shakertown Stakes last month. Commend appears to run much better in his second start off a layoff, as evidenced by winning last May with a strong 108 figure on the all-weather surface at Woodbine before a 108 figure effort when coming up a nose short of victory in the Connaught Cup Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality. Additionally, Commute possesses a win at this seven furlong distance at Belmont, which came in the spring of 2016 so if he improves second off the layoff as he has done previously, Commute should be considered a contender to win the Elusive Quality as well.

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase® Speed Figures, is Blind Ambition (105), Field of Courage (115), Great Stuff (106), Great Wide Open (IRE) (105), Kharafa (95) and Ready for Rye (111).

My Selections:

Undrafted
Conquest Panthera
Commend
Commute

The post Equibase Analysis: Can Anyone Top Undrafted In Elusive Quality Stakes? appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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