Todd Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup brigade took to Belmont’s training track this weekend to breeze one final time before they depart for Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
Leading the Sunday workers was Edward P. Evans’ homebred Quality Road, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.41 and will attempt to gain his first victory at 1 ¼ miles when he competes in the Classic.
“It was a similar type of work [to last week’s],” said Pletcher. “Last week we went three quarters and this week we went five eighths. The big gallop out was another step towards having him prepared for a mile and a quarter. Based on the way he’s been finishing his breezes and galloping out, I think we’ve got him just where he needs to be for that type of race.”
Pletcher expressed satisfaction with how Quality Road has not deviated from his original workout schedule.
“Every breeze has been on the day we wanted, and every one has been executed the way we’ve wanted,” said Pletcher. “We’ve got the bulk of our training done. It’s just a matter of shipping in safely. He’ll have a maintenance-type drill over the track at Churchill. He’ll probably have two or three gate schooling sessions there.”
Mike Repole’s Juvenile contenders, Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, turned in separate breezes on Sunday. Uncle Mo, winner of the Grade 1 Champagne, covered four furlongs in 49.97, while Stay Thirsty, second in the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful, traversed five furlongs in 1:01.38.
“[Uncle Mo’s breeze] was just very easy,” said Pletcher. “I thought he galloped out the first eighth well. We’ll see how he ships in and might do something a little longer next time, perhaps five eighths. We’ll just play it by ear. [Stay Thirsty] is obviously on a different program, having not run since the Hopeful.”
Rose Catherine, who will represent owner Paul Pompa, Jr. when she faces males in the Turf Sprint, breezed five furlongs in 1:04.26.
“She finished up OK, and it was a what-I would-expect-her-to-do type of work on the dirt,” said Pletcher.
Bribon, under consideration for the Sprint, was clocked at 1:01.06 for five furlongs.
“I think the horse is training as well has he ever has,” said Pletcher. “We’ll talk to [owner Derrick] Smith in the morning and see if he wants to put up the supplement. Our other option would be to stay here and run in the Bold Ruler [Grade 3, Belmont, October 30] and the [Hill ‘n’ Dale] Cigar Mile [Grade 1, Aqueduct, November 27].”
Three of Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup hopefuls took to the track on Saturday, with Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic) breezing five furlongs in 1:02.63, Malibu Prayer (Ladies’ Classic) negotiating the same distance in 1:01.83, and R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies) covering four furlongs in a brisk 48.03.
“They all went well,” said Pletcher. “Knock on wood, everybody seems to be training well.”