Bloodlines Presented By Mill Ridge Farm: Father-Son Success Continues For Elusive Quality, Quality Road by Frank Mitchell|03.16.2022|2:36pm Elusive Quality with longtime groom Steve Clark The father-son team of Elusive Quality (by Gone West) and Quality Road sired the winners of a pair of Grade 2 stakes over the weekend. At Oaklawn Park, Elusive Quality's Breeders' Cup winner Ce Ce won the Azeri Stakes in her prep for the upcoming Grade 1 Apple Blossom. At Tampa Bay, Quality Road's daughter Bleecker Street made a point of her continuing improvement with victory in the Hillsborough Handicap. Prior to his death on March 14, 2018, Elusive Quality had been one of the rocks of consistency and quality in Kentucky breeding. Retired to stud after winning nine of his 20 starts, Elusive Quality had shown speed of an exceptional degree, setting a track record for seven furlongs at Gulfstream with a time of 1:20.17 for owner Darley and trainer Bill Mott. Amazingly, however, Elusive Quality wasn't guaranteed a spot at stud, despite his obvious talent, because the massive colt had not won a stakes race until he was successful in the Jaipur Stakes and Poker Handicap, setting a new course record of 1:31.63 for a mile in the latter at Belmont. Elusive Quality was a 6-year-old when he won those stakes; he couldn't have been more impressive, and the manner of his victories was as decisive a factor in sending the grand-looking dark bay to stud as his exceptional race times. Even so, Elusive Quality (not to mention the sport's fans and owners) was lucky the big rascal managed to find his spot at stud because the horse never won a Grade 1 race and both of his stakes victories were on “t – u – r – f,” a substance toward which many breeders act as if it should be eaten but not raced on by aspiring stallion prospects. All was well with Elusive Quality, however, when his first crop began to race. They were fast, they were early, and they had class. He was off to the races and was nosed out of the freshman sire championship by fellow non-Grade 1 winner Distorted Humor (Forty Niner). Both promptly sired classic winners. Distorted Humor got Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and Elusive Quality sired Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Overall, Elusive Quality's champions or highweights included elite racers in the U.S., as well as Europe and Australia, and he proved himself one of the most valued and valuable sires of the last 20 years. A primary reason for his continuing influence is the immense success of his son Quality Road as a stallion. A horse of exceptional speed like his sire, Quality Road was declared out of the classics due to a quarter crack, but he won the G1 Florida Derby at three, then returned at four to win a trio of additional G1s, including the Metropolitan Handicap and Woodward Stakes. Standing at Lane's End Farm outside Versailles, Ky., Quality Road has become a staple of top-tier breeding operations, and his best offspring include champions Abel Tasman (Kentucky Oaks), Caledonia Road (Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies), and Corniche (Breeders' Cup Juvenile). At stud, Quality Road has 2022 freshman sire City of Light, winner of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, and last month, Quality Road was represented by Emblem Road, winner of the Saudi Cup. Unbeaten in five starts, Bleecker Street won her second graded stakes in the Hillsborough, and she is highly regarded among the older turf fillies. Ce Ce won the Eclipse Award as the best sprint mare in the country for 2021, when she won the Breeders' Cup Filly Sprint, and her plan of attack for this year appears to be focused on slightly longer races, with the immediate target being the Apple Blossom, a race the mare won two years ago at four. In addition, Ce Ce comes from a family of mares that have made winning Grade 1s a regular accomplishment. The chestnut daughter of Elusive Quality is the third generation in a row to win a Grade 1. Her dam is Miss Houdini (Belong to Me), winner of the G1 Del Mar Debutante, and the second dam is Magical Maiden (Lord Avie), who won the G1 Hollywood Starlet and Las Virgenes. Magical Maiden was one of three stakes winners from her dam, Gils Magic (Magesterial), who also produced the extraordinary broodmare Magical Flash (Miswaki), the dam of six stakes winners. Gils Magic was such a dominant broodmare that she managed to produce Magical Mile, a graded stakes winner by J.O. Tobin, one of the most beautiful and talented racehorses but a pure pillock as a stallion.