ELMONT, NY – Augustin Stable’s Spring Quality sprung a major upset on Saturday, seemingly falling from out of the clouds in midstretch to blow up the tote at 18-1 odds and capture the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking without error from the far outside 13 post under Edgar Prado, Spring Quality took back and angled inward to run two-wide into the far turn while Hi Happy and Hello Don Julio dueled through initial splits of :24.08, :48.54, and 1:12.01. Exiting the far turn, Hello Don Julio took command and initally appeared poised for the upset, but several stalkers and closers loomed large behind him. The chief leader in the charge, Sadler’s Joy, took command with less than a furlong to go, but from seemingly out of nowhere along the outside came Spring Quality. In the final few feet, the Graham Motion trainee was able to stick his nose in front and take victory in a final time of 1:58.58 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the firm Widener turf course.
“He broke OK and I was able to tuck right in and save some ground most of the turn,” said Prado, who also won the Manhattan in 2006 aboard Cacique. “When I asked him, he kicked right in.”
The rest of the 13-horse field finished within 4 3/4 lengths of the winner in what was quite possibly the tightest 1-13 finish ever witnessed. Sadler’s Joy had to settle for second over a resurgent Hi Happy, with Manitoulin crossing in fourth. Fashion Business took a close fifth over Robert Bruce, with Don Julio fading to finish sixth over Channel Maker and Multiplier. Completing the order of finish were Catcho En Die, One Go All Go, Alexios Komnenos, and the 9-5 favorite Beach Patrol.
Spring Quality’s victory was his second in a graded event, following the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct last November, and improved his overall record to 11-6-3-0. The 6-year-old gelded son of Quality Road increased his career bankroll to $925,797.
“I hated the post position, but he had a great trip, considering the post,” said Motion, who also won the 2017 edition with 27-1 longshot Ascend. “We felt like there was quite a lot of pace. The one thing we had to do was save ground; that was the most important thing. 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. How about two years in a row, winning this race with a longshot? It’s pretty crazy.”
Spring Quality returned $38 to win, $15.80 to place, and $9.40 to show. Sadler’s Joy brought back $6.60 to place and $4.40 to show, while Hi Happy paid $4.30 to show.