Quality Road Rebounds in Woodward

Quality Road returned to the winner’s circle Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course with an emphatic 4 ¾-length victory over Mythical Power in the 57th running of the $750,000 Woodward, his third Grade 1 win of the year.


Rebounding from his narrow loss to Blame at Saratoga four weeks ago, the 4-year-old Elusive Quality colt broke sharply and was quickly maneuvered to the outside of longshot Arcodoro, who set opening fractions of 24.06 and 47.76. With three furlongs to go, jockey John Velazquez sent Quality Road up into the lead, and he was never threatened as he rolled through the stretch under mild encouragement to hit the wire in 1:50.00 for the 1 1/8 miles.


“He was much, much better than last time,” said Velazquez of Quality Road, who this year won the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope, the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and the Grade 1 Met Mile before being stunned by Blame at the wire in the Grade 1 Whitney. “In the Whitney, I was struggling to get him going. Today, he was much more willing, and much more on the bridle.”


The Woodward victory was the fourth of the day for Velazquez, who heads into the final two days of the meet with a 55-52 advantage over Javier Castellano in the jockey standings. Earlier in the card, Velazquez and Pletcher teamed up to win race 2, a maiden special weight, with Crea's Law ($4.90).  In race 5, also a maiden event, Velazquez guided Souper Spectacular ($16), half-brother to the undefeated Zenyatta, to victory for trainer Seth Benzel. The rider also picked up an overnight stakes win in race 7, the Addison Mallery, aboard C.S. Silk ($10.60) for trainer Dale Romans.


In the Woodward, Mythical Power, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, held on to finish a half-length in front of Tranquil Manner, who in turn was followed by Convocation, Indian Dance, Arcodoro, and Mine That Bird.


“This is the race we expected,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Quality Road for Edward P. Evans. “He’s proven before he’s a top-class horse and he proved it again today … these situations, anything less than a win is unacceptable. Anytime you’re in that situation, you’re going to be relieved.


“I thought he ran a good race,” added the trainer. “I certainly think we can make a strong argument [for having the best horse in the country]. He’s accomplished a lot this year with the Donn, the Met Mile, and this race. He’s certainly put himself in a position, if he wins the next one. Right now, the plan all year has been to run in these races. He got beat a short head in the last one, but I think he redeemed himself today on a track that did not appear to be playing very fast.”


Sent off as the 3-10 favorite in the field of seven, Quality Road returned $2.60 for a $2 win bet to his backers in the crowd of 21,242. The winner’s purse of $450,000 extended his earnings to $2,232,830 and his record to 8-3-1 from 12 starts. He will likely next head to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 6.

“We’ll see how he comes out of today’s race,” said Pletcher. “The plan all along has been to go from here to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. We’ll have his next-to-last work at Belmont Park, and his final work at Churchill, so we’ll probably go to Churchill Downs 12 or 13 days out.”


Pletcher said he was looking forward to the challenge of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race from which Quality Road was scratched at the gate last year.


“We have tremendous respect for Zenyatta, but we don’t expect to show up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and have it be an easy field,” he said. ”That’s what championship events are about.”





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Older Comments about Quality Road Rebounds in Woodward...

Quality Road is pretty impressive, but if you looked at Tranquil Manner who was coming up the middle of the track in the stretch, he was gaining on Quality Road, coming third by a head behind Mythical Power. Even though Pletcher says that Quality Road was coasting down the stretch, he could have done more and for that reason I'm not overly worried about him for the Classic, though he does have a bit of a chance.
Isn't this result really what we expected out of Quality Road in the Woodward Stakes. Given the little to no competition that was entered to race against him. If Quality Road hadn't strolled away from the field as emphatically as he did would've made me worry about him.

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