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Breeders' Cup 2017

Pletcher's Stars on the Prowl

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

Edward P. Evans’ 4-year-old homebred colt Quality Road breezed an easy half-mile in 49 4/5 Sunday morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Todd Pletcher ahead of his role as the likely odds-on favorite in next Saturday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

A Virginia homebred son of Elusive Quality, Quality Road was prominent among a dozen stakes runners on the Sunday morning work tab at Palm Meadows from the Pletcher stable arsenal of talent that could be represented in each of the other three stakes to be run next weekend in addition to the Donn.

Starlight Partners’ 4-year-old colt Take the Points was timed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 and is nominated for both the Donn and the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on turf Saturday. A roan/gray son of Even the Score, Take the Points was on the Triple Crown trail early last year but switched over to turf for the second half of the campaign.

After just missing when second by a half-length in the Virginia Derby (G2) at Colonial Downs in mid-July, Take the Points won the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park and the Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. In one more start last year he finished seventh behind The Usual Q.T. in the Hollywood Derby (G1) on Nov. 29 at Hollywood Park.

Pletcher has a trio of fillies and mares nominated for Saturday’s $125,000 Suwannee River Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles with IEAH Stable’s Irish-bred 5-year-old Salve Germania the most likely to start after she breezed a half-mile in 49 2/5 Sunday morning.

A chestnut daughter of Peintre Celebre, Salve Germania won the Ballston Spa Handicap (G2) at Saratoga as a 24-to-1 longshot in her American debut last summer after campaigning in Germany and France. In one more start since the Ballston Spa, Salve Germania finished fifth in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) at Woodbine on Oct. 17.

The final stakes offering of the weekend will be the $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf, and Pletcher has a remarkable 10 of the 30 nominations in his barn, including Wertheimer and Frere’s Interactif, who breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 Sunday morning.

Interactif is a Kentucky homebred by Broken Vow and would attract plenty of support if he goes in the Hallandale Beach in his first start since finishing a game third in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, beaten only three-quarters of a length. Interactif won the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga and Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland in his two previous turf tries.

Pletcher also had several other prominent 3-year-olds in the stable working Sunday morning  including Zayat Stable’s Eskendereya (1:02 2/5), WinStar Farm’s Rule (1:01 4/5), E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Discreetly Mine (59 1/5 – ‘bullet’) and WinStar Farm’s Super Saver (48 4/5).

The trainer recently indicated that Eskendereya was on target for the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) here on Feb. 20 along with Dogwood Farm’s Aikenite, who will bid to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 23. Eskendereya is a son of Giant’s Causeway and looked good winning a one-mile allowance here on Jan. 7.

Rule is a Kentucky homebred by Roman Ruler who won the $750,000 Delta Jackpot (G3) last out at Delta Downs in Louisiana on Dec. 4. He will make his 3-year-old debut in either the $225,000 Sam Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs or Feb. 13 or the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 20, according to the trainer.

Super Saver is a Kentucky homebred by Maria’s Mon and is a little bit behind some of his stablemates. His Sunday morning move was only his second timed workout since winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs by five lengths on Nov. 28. Pletcher indicated Super Saver will likely return to the races in early March.


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