Quality Road made a special guest appearance on Monday morning at Saratoga. After the track was closed for training and the grounds cleared at 10 a.m., the starting gate was moved to near the finish line so that the likely Whitney favorite could school a bit before this weekend’s start.
Todd Pletcher, when asked why he had arranged this for his horse, said, “Just as a safety net. It’s going to be a little different environment, starting in front of the grandstand, and we wanted to cover all our bases.”
Pletcher implied that the behavior that led to Quality Road’s being scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic was an anomaly, one that he doesn’t expect to see repeated. Quality Road is on “the standard gate schooling sessions we do with all our horses,” he said. “Periodically, we take them to the gate. What you saw today is what we see every day, and what we saw every day before the Breeders’ Cup.”
And what we saw was pretty boring. With John Velazquez up, Quality Road came to the track from the paddock gap, with Exhi and Bank Heist; Quality Road recently worked in company with the former, who, Pletcher indicated, will start next in the West Virginia Derby.
The son of Elusive Quality walked up the track and circled back to the gate; he stood behind the gate, offering slight and brief resistance to moving towards the gate. He twice walked in and stood in the gate, backing out each time. Then he came around the gate and made his way back down the track.
Like I said, pretty boring. He must have thought that we were all fools for standing there watching him.
Downplaying the extraordinariness of the situation, Pletcher said, “This isn’t part of the routine for him; it’s an exception. We wanted to make sure that everything was on target.”
Pletcher reported that Quality Road came out of his work yesterday “excellent.”
Turning to his Kentucky Derby winner, Pletcher said that Super Saver came out of the Haskell, in which he finished fourth, “in good order.”
“I thought he ran well,” Pletcher said. “He got a little bit tired, following suit to what he showed us in the spring. He got a little tired [in the Tampa Bay Derby], improved in [the Arkansas Derby], and came back with his biggest race third off the layoff.
“Now if we can repeat that, he hopefully improves a bit in the Travers and fires his best shot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
He said that he thought that Malibu Prayer “ran huge” in winning the Ruffian yesterday, and indicated that the Molly Pitcher is a more likely next start for her than the Personal Ensign.
More photos of Quality Road available here.