True Quality, under C. C. Lopez, crossed the finish line in 1:22.31 for the seven furlong distance over the fast main track. The son of Elusive Quality beat Fabulous Strike by a length and a half. Laurel Park-based speedster Malibu Kid finished third.
The winner, who is trained by John P. Campo, Jr. at Aqueduct, paid $9.80. The exacta returned $21.60 and the triple paid $88.
True Quality upped his win total to five victories in ten starts. He captured the Paumonok Handicap in the same gate-to-wire fashion in his previous outing at Aqueduct. The four-year-old is now three for four since arriving in the Campo barn.
“We hoped he could go the distance and he did,” Campo said. “That half (mile) in 47 and change…said it all. Fabulous Strike is a very good horse but we also have a very good horse.”
Fabulous Strike, who was ranked the top sprinter in the country by the Daily Racing Form’s Mike Watchmaker, would have become a millionaire with a victory but instead settled for $30,000 to up his earnings to nearly $970,000 in 20 starts. The son of Smart Strike had won eight of his previous 11 races, including a victory over True Quality in the Gravesend Handicap on December 27. The six-year-old carried 127 pounds, 10 more than the winner.
“No excuses with the weight or the trip,” said Edgar Prado, who rode Fabulous Strike for the first time with regular rider Ramon Dominguez in Arkansas to ride Triple Crown contender Old Fashioned. “He just got outrun. We had a good trip. He was right there turning for home, with a perfect position to win. He just got outrun.”
“I thought Edgar would have pushed the winner a little more,” said Travis Dunkelberger, who was aboard the third place finisher. “Our plan was to sit off the lead and make a run at the leaders. We took him off his game but he dug in there. He proved he belonged in this company.”
Eternal Star, Broadway Producer and Lord Snowdon finished off the board.