Trainer Robbie Griffiths has revealed the 2016 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) could figure as the next target for The Quarterback after the talented sprinter mustered a shock upset in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington over the weekend.
The Quarterback was rated virtually no chance of success in the Newmarket Handicap but produced a particularly scintillating turn of foot in the final 300m of the race to charge home from the rear of the pack and hit the line a head in the clear of Black Heart Bart.
Griffiths told Correct Weight the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Adelaide’s Morphettville Racecourse in May initially figured as the major target for the Street Boss gelding this time, but serious consideration will now be placed behind the TJ Smith Stakes.
“We’ll certainly think about (going to the TJ Smith),” Griffiths said.
“It’s a different structure all together with the weight-for-age – it’s going to really favour Chautauqua with no weight difference between the two runners.
“We’d always thought we’d look down the path of The Goodwood but now we’ve won the Newmarket, we’ll let the dust settle and see if he can rise to the occasion of the TJ Smith.
“At the end of the day he’s quite a big strong horse and I’m hoping with natural maturity he can develop that skill set.”
Posting eight wins and a further seven minors through his 24 start career so far, The Quarterback won each of the Flemington BM90 (1000m) and Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) early in 2015 but returned to the paddock after failing to beat a single runner home in either of the Listed WJ Adams Stakes (1000m) and Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m).
Resuming in spring for sixth in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) and sixth in the Le Pine Funerals Handicap (1100m), The Quarterback ran on for a close second behind Fast ‘N’ Rocking in the Listed Caulfield Village (1200m) before ending his year with a particularly strong showing to win the Listed Dilmah Earl Great Stakes (1000m) on Crown Oaks Day.
Returning this time for third in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m), The Quarterback ran sixth in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) in his only other start prior to the Newmarket Handicap.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best early 2016 TJ Smith Stakes odds, for which The Quarterback has firmed to a quote of $26 for success.