11/03/2010 10:33PM

Quality Road upgrade


Quality Road sometimes is a victim of defensive strategy.

Brilliant when he uses his speed, Quality Road is ordinary when he leaves the gun in his holster.

Quality Road was odds-on in the Whitney in August, but slowed the pace to an extreme crawl and was outrun late by Blame.

Quality Road was a contender in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last October, but backed up the pace and was outrun late by Summer Bird. Quality Road’s trainer Todd Pletcher knows the remedy.

“It kind of defies logic a little bit … he’d be better off going faster and make the horses that are chasing him go a little faster early on,” Pletcher said in an interview on TVG.

When he goes fast early, the horses chasing him expend energy keeping up. When Quality Road goes slow, the fresh closers stay in contention and are fresh for the pounce.

Quality Road is a different, better animal when he puts his speed to use. He pressed a 1:09-and-change in the Donn in February, and won by double digits with a 121 Beyer Figure.

Quality Road smoked the opening half in 45-and-change in the Met Mile in May, winning the country’s most prestigious one-turn race and winning it easily.

So what about the Breeders’ Cup Classic? Slow-down tactics that suck along the field will not work. Using that plan, Quality Road has little shot to “out-close” the closers.

Pletcher said “the key to Quality Road is … he needs to spread the race out a little bit.”

Sounds like Quality Road will use his speed Saturday. It sounds like he will not mess around.

Quality Road will go for it. He will draw the gun, use his speed, and at some point try to “create an advantage.”

Quality Road, 8-for-12 and on speed figures the “fastest horse” in the Classic, might not win.

But if he falls short, it will be on his terms.

chuck More than 1 year ago
It won't make a difference, he won't get a mile and a quarter against these and Blame can have him whenever he wants. I hate to ruin the party but Zenyatta has never faced a dirt field like this, last years bc "plastic" win was enhanced due to the weak field (Gio Ponti on dirt), no way she can handle Blame or Lookin At Lucky. She will be lucky to hit the board, this race is a wise guys delight as Zenyatta will be over bet and value will lay elsewhere.
Nick Borg More than 1 year ago
Quality Road has brilliant early speed - up to 1 1/8 miles. After that he won't finish first especially if he pushes or sets a very quick pace as described/explained in your article. His trainer, Todd Pletcher has finally gotten a clue and has been trying to help his horse by giving him longer, stamina building workouts. Prior, he has never trained Quality Road for any length of time in such a way. Galloping 2 minute licks is fine but to build stamina you have to actually work/run//train at longer distances. So perhaps Quality Road will now be able to stretch his speed further. But setting a quick pace and trying to get 1 1/4 miles is a hard task. What's sad is that Quality Road always seemed to be a very special horse and his true ability and talents have never been fully realized. I know he had fragile feet at one time so maybe that's why Pletcher never seemed to ask his horse to train hard. So we won't ever really know just how good Quality Road could have been. But at least now he is being trained at a level more suitable to the horses running style and capabilities.
carl fratello More than 1 year ago
Like Quality Road, Haynesfield has ample Classic Speed is high strung and fiery. If they both break and hook up it could set it up for Churchill loving Blame or dark horse Etched (Lookin At Lucky will be off the board). This field is superior to last year and on dirt so it looks like the Super Mare is looking at (20) in a row, the last time on dirt. Haynesfield will win the battle but may lose the war because there's no way he's getting away with a 48.
Jerry More than 1 year ago
Pletcher's comments are throwing a monkey wrench into my handicapping of the Classic. John Velasquez has dropped back behind the main speed horse when breaking from the rail in the past with Quality Road, then pressed the leader from the outside. If he guns to the lead, it's suicide with Haynesfield pressing him. Haynesfield can smoke early and his only chance is to take the lead. I doubt we'll see Quality Road brush off Haynesfield like Secretariat did to Sham going 1:09 in the Belmont and not get eaten up in the stretch by the closers. I thought he would try to come to the outside of Haynesfield and stay close enough to be the first to pounce. If that happens, Haynesfield could once again get away slow enough to steal this race.