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Breeders' Cup Classic Next for Quality Road

Trainer Todd Pletcher was delighted to report this morning that Quality Road exited his victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward in excellent shape and would next return to Belmont Park to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 6.


“I think there was a lot more in the tank based on the way he came back; he was hardly even blowing,” said 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.”


The win was Quality Road’s fourth in five starts this year, and third in a Grade 1 along with the Met Mile and the Donn Handicap, and puts the Edward P. Evans’ color-bearer solidly back in the picture for Horse of the Year honors.


“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.”


In the Classic, Quality Road will be coming off a 63-day layoff and running a distance at which he has yet to win. In two tries at 1 ¼ miles, Quality Road finished third in the Grade 1 Travers and second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup behind 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.”


The trainer also reported that Bribon, who finished sixth in the Grade 1 Forego, shed his left front frog and would miss about 10 days of training. Should he not go in the Breeders’ Cup, the Grade 2 Kelso on October 3 at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Racetrack on November 27 would be likely alternates.


Pletcher added that Checklist, who finished last in the Forego, appears to have come back all right.




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