Quality Road: returns to scene of brilliant Florida Derby win on SundayPICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Matt Wooley
Four-year-old debut for Quality Roadin Florida
Preview: USA, Sunday 9.43pm GMT
Gulfstream Park: Hal's Hope Hcap (Grade 3) 1m, dirt, 4yo+
ONE-TIME Kentucky Derby favourite Quality Road (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez) injects a shot of quality into the opening-day programme at Gulfstream Park on Sunday when he makes his four-year-old debut in the Hal's Hope.
The son of Elusive Quality, last seen when refusing to enter the stallsbefore the Breeders' Cup Classic, is drawn two in a nine-runner field for the $100,000 event, in which he shoulders top weight of 8st 10lb.
Quality Road is back at the scene of his most memorable triumph last term, when he stamped himself a major Triple Crown contender with a brilliant victory in the Florida Derby for former trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
However, recurrent quarter-crack problems kept him out of the Classics and he was transferred to Todd Pletcher's barn in the summer, finishing runner-up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup before his starting-gate travails at Santa Anita.
Rivals in the Gulfstream highlight include late-running stablemate Harlem Rocker (Eibar Coa), twice a winner at the track and now on the comeback trail after a 12-month layoff.
"I hate to run two horses of this quality against one another, but I have to consider what's best in the long run for each individual horse," said Pletcher, speaking to the Daily Racing Form. "Hopefully we'll be able to separate them again later this winter."
Le Grand Cru (Allen Jerkens/Jose Lezcano) comes here after a couple of graded-stakes wins in New York.