Quality Road came out of his record-setting performance in the Aug. 3 Amsterdam (gr. II) in good condition and will be pointed toward the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers (gr. I) as planned, trainer Todd Pletcher reported Aug. 4.
The son of Elusive Quality, owned by Edward P. Evans, covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.45, breaking a 30-year-old record by nearly a full second. It was his first start since winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) back in March, where he set the 1 1/8-mile track record at Gulfstream Park. A pair of quarter cracks caused the colt to miss the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), where he would have been the likely favorite if able to go.
“He came out of the race very well,” said Pletcher. “Regardless of the time, we were very pleased with the way he ran, the way he finished, the way everything unfolded. It was so fast that I think everyone was like, ‘Is that legit?’ And when it was, it’s indicative of how good of a horse he is.”
In other news, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird arrived at Saratoga Aug. 4 to begin preparations for the Travers.
Accompanied by three other horses from the stable of trainer Tim Ice, the chestnut son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone left New Jersey at 5:30 a.m. EDT., arriving shortly after 10 a.m. After a short grazing session, he was settled into his stall in the stakes barn, just two doors down from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who is also Travers-bound.
“He loves to travel, he’s almost worry-free in that respect,” said Ice of Summer Bird, who in his first start since the Belmont Stakes finished second to Preakness (gr. I) winning filly Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park.
“Rachel proved she’s a superstar filly in that race. My colt ran big, no second-guessing. Regardless of whether she goes in the Travers, all systems are go for us, knock on wood. The mile and a quarter is a good distance for my colt, and, whoever comes, comes. If she comes, and you have all three classic winners, it should bring a lot of people. ”
Summer Bird will walk for the next few days, said Ice, most likely returning to the track for training on Aug. 7
“I’m happy to be in the corner of Summer Bird,” said Ice. “The Haskell was only his sixth race, and he’s an improving colt.”
Meanwhile, Mine That Bird completed his first tour of the main oval at Saratoga Aug. 4, galloping 1 1/2 miles at approximately 7:15 a.m. with regular exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up.
“He might have started just a hair flat, but he got into it the last half mile, got pretty aggressive,” said trainer Chip Woolley, who arrived from West Virginia with Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach’s gelding the day before. “You always worry when you run one and then have to ship 500 miles, but he ate pretty good last night, drank water and went good this morning. I’m happy with the way he looks, I couldn’t ask much more.”
Upon returning to the barn, Mine That Bird walked the shedrow and had a bath, before Figueroa led him out to graze with Woolley looking on, the clicking of camera shutters following the gelding’s every move.
“We’ll see how he does this week and then make a decision about when to work him,” Woolley said. “He’ll basically train every day except the day after a work.”