Quality Road

Quality Road

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Breeders' Cup Classic Next for Quality Road

Todd Pletcher says Woodward winner returning to Belmont to prepare for biggest test.

Woodward Stakes (gr. I) winner Quality Road  will return to Belmont Park to prepare for his next start in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), trainer Todd Pletcher said Sept. 5.

The morning after Quality Road's 4 3/4-length win in the $750,000 Woodward, Pletcher said the 4-year-old son of Elusive Quality--Kobla had plenty more to give had it been necessary in the 1 1/8-mile test.

“I think there was a lot more in the tank based on the way he came back; he was hardly even blowing,” said a clearly delighted Pletcher. “He made the lead kind of easily and coasted home from the eighth pole. He was prepared to run a lot faster had it been necessary, but when you’re 4 ¾ lengths clear, it’s hard to ask for a whole lot more.”

Pletcher said that Quality Road exited his Woodward victory in excellent shape. The win was the colt’s fourth in five starts this year, and third in a grade I along with the Met Mile and the Donn Handicap. Pletcher believes the Edward P. Evans color-bearer is solidly back in the picture for Horse of the Year honors after rebounding from a narrow loss to Blame  in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I).

“I think winning the Woodward was an important race for championship honors,” said Pletcher. “Usually, the last race they run is the most important, and with the last one being the Breeders’ Cup that one is going to carry the most weight of all. But his body of work this year has been impressive, and that will carry a lot of weight at the end, too.”

If he doesn't run again before the Breeders' Cup, Quality Road will be coming off a 63-day layoff and trying a distance at which he has yet to win. In two tries at 1 ¼ miles, Quality Road finished third in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) behind 2009 3-year-old champion Summer Bird.

“I think if he gets the 1 ¼ miles he can do it with the time in between,” said Pletcher. “For me statistically, we’ve always done well with that kind of time frame, so we’d like to come into the biggest and most important race with what we do best. Our horses tend to run their best races with that kind of spacing between them.”

As for the distance, Pletcher pointed out that both defeats came over sloppy racetracks.

“The Jockey Club Gold Cup was not a bad race,” he said. “I think he gets the 1 ¼ miles, obviously; we’d just like to do it on a fast surface.”