5-Year-Old Gelding Favored for Return in Laurel’s Friday Feature
$25,412 Rainbow 6 Carryover for Friday’s Eight-Race Program
LAUREL, Md. – Her stable recently expanded to two horses, but even when it was just one, Amy Cortez wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Cortez is the owner and trainer of Audacious Quality, the narrow 5-2 program favorite in Friday’s 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance feature for Maryland-bred/sired horses on the Exceller turf course as live racing returns to Laurel Park.
Post time for the first of eight races is 12:40 p.m.
Audacious Quality exits a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Find at Laurel, his stakes debut. Beaten less than a length for it all, the 5-year-old Elusive Quality gelding emerged from a three-way photo a head behind third-place finisher B Determined, who also returns in Friday’s race.
“I think he was in front by the second wire [in the Find],” Cortez said. “He ran huge. He got taken back a little too far out of it and had to make a big run. He had a lot of ground to make up and kind of got in a little bit of trouble, but he was running at the end. I feel like out of anybody in the race he was running the fastest at the end, so I am anticipating the same type of move for Friday.
“I expect him to be more forwardly placed. There’s a couple speed horses in there but he’s got tactical speed so he should be sitting closer. He’ll still have that same kick at the end,” she added. “He’ll have a little more room to work with, and it’s a little bit of an easier spot. The other horse that he was in a photo finish with is also in there [B Determined], and he is a very nice horse, too, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Cortez came to acquire Audacious Quality last January from trainer Phil Schoenthal, for whom she was galloping before Schoenthal moved his operation from Laurel to the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
“He was kind of cleaning house a little bit and just kind of taking some of the better horses, more useful horses, and was looking to find another home for him,” Cortez said. “I really liked him. I had been galloping him and I was like, ‘I’ll take him if you’re interested in selling him,’ so that’s what I did.”
Also factoring into her decision was the success Cortez had as owner of another Elusive Quality gelding, Giron, who returned in 2010 after 14 months away from the races to win seven times through the spring of 2012. A Stonestreet Stables homebred, Giron was claimed by Schoenthal on behalf of owner William Wise for $15,000 in October 2008 at Laurel and wound up with Cortez after suffering an injury.
Under John Hiraldo Audacious Quality gave a stretch battle to Captain Thunder piloted by Feargal Lynch to the wire win by a neck at Laurel Park on May 20, 2021.
“I would win race after race with that horse,” Cortez said. “He was being given away because he bowed real bad. I just gave him the time, and with the time off he got better and better. We brought him back to the track and the rest is history. I wanted this horse because he reminded me a lot of that horse, and I’m not wrong because this horse been even better.”
Cortez has one other horse, an unraced 2-year-old filly in which she recently purchased a half-interest. A native of Vermont who began galloping in her teens at Santa Anita before relocating to Maryland in the winter of 1995-96, she gallops every morning at Laurel for trainer Justin Nixon, where Audacious Quality is stabled.
“My boyfriend helps me out. He’s a blacksmith and he’ll come and chip in. I do rub Quality myself and he’ll come and help me tack up if I need him or do him up, that kind of thing. He’s grooming the baby filly,” Cortez said. “I’m here all morning and I just work as I go. I take Quality out last. After I get done galloping Justin’s horses, then I ride him.
“Everybody asks, ‘Do you want more horses?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know,’” she added. “I think if you’re only going to have one, he’d be the one.”
Audacious Quality has raced seven times for Cortez with two wins and two thirds. Both of his wins have come since being moved to the grass, winning a one-mile claimer last May at historic Pimlico Race Course that wound up being his season finale. Fifth by 1 ¾ lengths to Nathan Detroit – an allowance winner July 4 at Laurel – Audacious Quality captured an open one-mile allowance at Laurel just 15 days before the Find.
Audacious Quality winning an Allowance by 2 1/4 lengths at Laurel Park June 4, 2022.
“The day after he won, they called me up and asked if I wanted to nominate. They were looking for horses and it’s [a] free [nomination],” Cortez said. “I really wasn’t going to run him in that race, honestly, but when the PPs and everything came out I was like, ‘You know what? I’m running.’ He ran a huge number the time he won and I thought he’d be competitive, so we ran. And I’m glad we did. I thought he could have won that race.”
An injury kept the Virginia-certified Audacious Quality out of last year’s Bert Allen at Colonial Downs – a race his mother, Staged Affair, won against the boys in 2012 – but he is being pointed to both that race Sept. 7 as well as a spot on the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program Oct. 22 at Laurel.
“We were at Timonium [last summer] and he started going wrong at that time and just wasn’t doing as well so I just decided to stop. He got an injury and I gave him the rest of the year off,” Cortez said. “I plan on running in the stake race in Virginia, and then after that he’s probably eligible for the starter in the Maryland Million or I might run him in the regular Turf.”
Audacious Quality drew the far outside post under jockey Angel Cruz in a field of 10 for Friday’s Race 7 that includes main-track-only entrant Welling; Mr Jefferson, second by a head to multiple stakes-winning stablemate Joe in the Federico Tesio on dirt April 16 and returning to turf for the first time since his debut last August at Colonial; and B Determined, second choice on the morning line at 3-1.
Cortez has started a total of 37 horses as a trainer since 2017 and Audacious Quality has been her most successful. But to Cortez, he’s been much more than a racehorse.
“He’s a pet now, that’s the other thing. I have one horse and just recently got the other, so he gets a lot of time and a lot of attention and he likes that,” Cortez said. “He’s a nice guy. He’s just a cool horse to work around. He’s a lot of fun to ride, and he’s just a really enjoyable animal.”
Notes: Friday’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a jackpot carryover of $25,412 from the special July 4 holiday program. The sequence spans Races 3-8 and includes a five-furlong maiden special weight in Race 6 that drew eight 2-year-old fillies led by 2-1 program favorite Traininwithkristen, owned by Madaket Stables and trained by Brittany Russell.
UPDATE: Audacios Quality won Race 7 at Laurel Park on July 31 and then pulled up lame after the finish and was vanned off. He suffered an injury to his right front fetlock. He is comfortable and bright and has been transferred to Dr. Patty Hogan’s equine clinic. He is scheduled for surgery Thursday morning. Quality is absolutely receiving the best of care. His prognosis is good. We wish him a healthy and speedy recover and will keep our readers posted on his progress. We wish the best to Amy Cortez and her team.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club UPDATED 8/3/2022 9:17 AM ET
Photo: Audacious Quality winning an Allowance by 2 1/4 lengths at Laurel Park June 4, 2022. (Maryland Jockey Club)