HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Quality Road broke his own track mark at Gulfstream Park on Saturday while winning the $500,000 Donn Handicap by a record 12¾ lengths.
The Todd Pletcher-trained colt covered 11⁄8 miles in 1:47.49 with John Velazquez aboard, breaking the mark of 1:47.72 he set last year in the Florida Derby.
"It felt awesome," Velazquez said.
Dry Martini was second, a length in front of Delightful Kiss in third. Mambo Meister was fourth. The margin of victory was the largest in the Donn's 52 runnings, breaking the record of 9 lengths set in 1972 by Going Straight.
Quality Road, who carried highweight of 123 pounds and spotted his opponents between 6 and 10 pounds, joined Harlan's Holiday (2002-03) and Cryptoclearance (1987, '89) as the only horses to win the Florida Derby and the Donn.
"There's not too much you can say about a performance like that," Pletcher said. "He showed up, ran one of his best races, and you couldn't be much more impressed than that."
Peppi Knows wins Whirlaway
NEW YORK — Trainer Gary Contessa stared in disbelief at the TV monitor in the paddock at chilly Aqueduct Racetrack.
His prize 3-year-old colt Eightyfiveinafifty had bolted to the far outside during the Whirlaway Stakes on Saturday, burst through two barriers and took off in the direction of the barn area. Jockey Jorge Chavez was unseated and fell to the cold, hard dirt track.
"Oh my God," Contessa whispered as he took off running through the tunnel leading to the track.
It would be a few tense minutes before Contessa found out that Eightfiveinafifty had been safely caught after suffering a bloody, two-inch cut to his right hind leg and just might race again. Chavez complained of soreness, but was walking on his own before being taken to a hospital for further examination.
"He'll need a couple of stitches," a relieved Contessa said of his colt, and "I'll need a Valium."
Contessa said Chavez told him that the bit had broken in the race and that he had no control of the horse.
Peppi Knows, meanwhile, took the lead approaching the quarter pole and held off Afleet Again to win the $100,000 Whirlaway by 1 length in his 3-year-old debut.
The speedy Eightyfiveinafifty came into the race off a 171/4-length win last month, and was sent off as the 3-10 favorite in the five-horse field.
Santa Anita prep postponed
ARCADIA, Calif. — Racing was canceled at Santa Anita on Saturday because of heavy rain that left the synthetic surface unsuitable, forcing five stakes to be rescheduled, including the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds, which will be run Feb. 13.