The script didn’t play out that well for Quality Road last year during his 3-year-old season, but in 2010 it’s so far, so good, trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Quality Road, owned by Edward Evans, looms the prohibitive choice for the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga.
“If anything, he has been able to go on our schedule this year,” Pletcher said Aug. 3. “Last year he was playing a bit of catch-up. We’ve been fortunate that so far, everything has gone according to plan.”
In 2009 a strong victory in the Florida Derby (gr. I) had Quality Road (Elusive Quality —Kobla, by Strawberry Road) looking like the favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). A setback forced the colt to miss the Derby.
Later in the year Quality Road was set for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), only to be scratched at the gate when he wouldn’t load.
This year the 4-year-old colt is three-for-three, including a superior victory by almost 13 lengths in the Donn Handicap (gr. II). Overall, Quality Road has seven wins, two seconds, and one third in 10 starts for earnings of $1,632,830.
Pletcher indicated the Breeders’ Cup gate incident was an aberration.
“Unfortunately he gets a little bit of a bad reputation from one isolated incident,” Pletcher said. “Since then he has been absolutely perfect in every situation. I certainly think he’s a good enough horse to do just about anything. To me, he’s as good as a horse can possibly be.”
Quality Road will face only a handful of foes in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney. Pletcher called Blame , owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider and trained by Al Stall Jr., a chief contender.
“Blame is obviously an extremely talented horse,” Pletcher said. “Obviously he’s an up-and-coming star. I have a tremendous amount of respect for his ability.”
Blame (Arch —Liable, by Seeking the Gold) won the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) in his last start and is two-for-two this year. The 4-year-old colt, like Quality Road, has seven wins in 10 starts and never has finished worse than third.
Both colts will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), which will be back on dirt this year at Churchill Downs.