Derby Scratch Ethereal Road Romps in Sir Barton

Ethereal Road | Jim McCue

Ethereal Road (Quality Road) will always be remembered as the horse removed from the 2022 GI Kentucky Derby at the last moment of scratch time, paving the way for an 80-1 longshot to upset America's biggest race. However, on GI Preakness S. Day, he signified he might have something else to say about the 3-year-old picture this year. With stablemate Secret Oath (Arrogate) Preakness-bound after her GI Kentucky Oaks win, Ethereal Road was routed to the undercard Sir Barton S. at Pimlico and looked like a world-beater as he dodged traffic to win going away by 4 3/4 lengths.

Breaking from the rail as the 3-2 choice, Ethereal Road wasn't quick out of the gate and settled comfortably near the back. With just one horse beaten at both the :23.70 first quarter and :47.26 half, he tipped out five wide on the turn to circle horses, quickly took command, and surged to the lead with obvious confidence to post a facile daylight win.

“That's what we expected,” said legendary winning trainer and Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. “That's his style. It was a picture-perfect ride from Luis [Saez]. We probably should have left him in the Derby, but that's hindsight. He got a good trip. The fractions are realistic. We can definitely build off this.”

Ethereal Road broke his maiden in January at Oaklawn in his fourth career try, then jumped into the deep end and responded with a runner-up finish to Un Ojo (Laoban) in the GII Rebel S. in February. The Sir Barton was his first start following off-the-board finishes in the GI Toyota Blue Grass S. and the GIII Stonestreet Lexington S., both at Keeneland in April. Saturday was Saez's first time on the colt in the afternoon. Saez had won the Oaks in his first time aboard Secret Oath and retained that mount for the Preakness.

“He ran pretty nice,” said Saez. “The pace was perfect for him. It's the style he likes to run–break and make one move. He finished really strong.”

Ethereal Road's dam, Sustained, was second in the 2012 GIII Miss Grillo S. for Paul Pompa, Jr., who bred Ethereal Road and sold him for $90,000 at Keeneland September a month before he passed away in 2020. Sustained was sold at the 2021 Keeneland January sale for $320,000 to Determined Stud while in foal to Connect, whom Pompa also campaigned. The mare produced colts by that Pompa-raced stallion in both 2020 and 2021.

1–ETHEREAL ROAD, 118, c, 3, by Quality Road
               1st Dam: Sustained (GSP, $184,629), by War Front
               2nd Dam: Sweetstorm Amy, by Lemon Drop Kid
               3rd Dam: Hurricane Amy, by Storm Cat
($90,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). 1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-Aaron
Sones; B-Paul Pompa (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas; J-Luis Saez.
$60,000. Lifetime Record: GSP, 8-2-1-1, $354,545. *1/2 to
Turned Aside (American Pharoah), GSW-USA, GSP-Can,
2–B Dawk, 118, c, 3, Gormley–Mott N Hester, by Super
Saver. ($77,000 Ylg '20 KEEJAN; $140,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP;
$425,000 2yo '21 EASMAY; $500,000 RNA 3yo '22 KEEAPR).
1ST BLACK TYPE. O-West Point Thoroughbreds & Joseph
E. Besecker; B-Small Batch Thoroughbreds & Robert Fetkin
(KY); T-Doug F. O'Neill. $20,000.
3–Mr Jefferson, 118, c, 3, Constitution–Clockstrucktwelve, by
Malibu Moon. O/B-R. Larry Johnson (MD); T-Michael J.
Trombetta. $10,000.
Margins: 4 3/4, 2 1/4, HF. Odds: 1.50, 3.50, 6.10.
Also Ran: Ruggs, Good Skate, Unikee, Goldenize, Writeitontheice. Scratched: Brooklyn Diamonds, The Addison Pour.
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