The majority of the 3,529 fans at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday afternoon were fully aware that Paraneck Stable’s True Quality had plenty of speed and knew how it use it. That was why they made him their even-money favorite in the 101st running of the $69.330, six-furlong Paumonok Stakes for three-year-olds and up.

But in making his first start of 2009, the 4-year-old Elusive Quality colt also displayed plenty of toughness as he defeated Place Your Bet by three and three quarters of a length in 1:10.92 on the fast inner dirt track.

There was no mystery as to how the race would unfold, and sure enough, jockey C. C. Lopez launched True Quality to the lead, where he quickly opened up a half-length on his nearest rival.

It was clear from the onset, however, that True Quality was not going to be allowed to fly solo. Immediately, challenges came on the outside from Place Your Bet and Accredit. The first quarter of a mile went in 22.66, the half in 45.74, and after five furlongs in 57.99, True Quality had gotten rid of all challengers but the pesky Place Your Bet.

It wasn’t until mid-stretch, after repeated taps from Lopez’s left-hand that the race was secured. Lopez switched sticks to his right hand, True Quality switched leads and the race was over.

“He ran great, what can I tell you?,” Lopez said of his second winner of the afternoon. “It was nothing I did personally. It started to get tight at the three-eighths-pole and I had (Mike) Luzzi on the inside (riding 3rd-place finisher Ravalo) and when he eased out of that spot, I just went on through. All I had to do was bide my time, wait until he changed leads, and ask him. When he changed leads, I tapped him on the shoulder and he went about his business and drew off.”

True Quality paid $4.20 to win.

“He got tried every step of the way and never caught a breather,” said trainer John Campo Jr.. “He ran for six furlongs. This horse speaks for himself. Where’s he going next? That’s a good question. We’ll sit down in a couple of days and figure it out.”

Serious Fever was fourth and Accredit was last.

Grand Champion was scratched.