08/08/2010 10:47AM

Blame, Quality Road target different races after Whitney

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Barbara D. Livingston
Blame (left), beating Quality Road in Saturday's Whitney, will make his next start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 2.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A rematch between Blame and Quality Road will have to wait until the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. The top two finishers from Saturday’s thrilling Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga are headed their separate ways for their next starts.

Blame, who rallied under Garrett Gomez to run down Quality Road by a head in the Whitney - his second consecutive Grade 1 victory - will make his next start in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 2, trainer Al Stall said Sunday morning.

Quality Road, meanwhile, who suffered his first defeat in four starts this year, will come back in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes here Sept. 4, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Blame and Quality Road each earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 111 for the Whitney, in which Quality Road got away with modest early fractions, but could not withstand the late run of Blame, who engaged inside the sixteenth pole and outfinished Quality Road to get up in the final strides.

"I still think we were up against it yesterday, and I think he continues to overcome just like he did in the [Stephen] Foster," trainer Al Stall said.

Stall said he looks forward to the time Blame "gets in a race that goes his way one time, which might start happening as we go 10 furlongs."

The 1 1/4-mile distance of the Jockey Club as well as the fact it is five weeks from the Breeders’ Cup are the reasons Blame will run in that race, Stall said.

"I want to get a mile and a quarter race into him, and then we want to go home and wait for whoever shows" for the Classic, Stall said. "We feel like we got a five-week blueprint to get to the Breeders Cup."

Stall said Blame would probably stay in Saratoga for another two or three weeks before shipping to Keeneland, where he trains over a synthetic surface. He would ship to Belmont a few days before the Gold Cup.

Pletcher said Quality Road, who conceded five pounds to Blame in the Whitney, came out of the race in excellent shape and said he and owner Ed Evans will stick to their original plan of running back in the Woodward. That would give Quality Road nine weeks to the Classic. Quality Road has shown a propensity to run well fresh.

"We look forward to meeting [Blame] at equal weights at some point," Pletcher said. "We’ve got our schedule, and we’re going to stick to it assuming the horse cooperates. That’s been the plan all along."

Though Quality Road was able to get away with a half-mile in 48.06 seconds and six furlongs in 1:11.92, Pletcher said that may not necessarily be an advantage for his horse.

"When you have a horse that’s capable of going 46, 1:09, and keep going, it kind of takes away his weapon a little bit," Pletcher said. "His strength is being able to sweep horses off their feet. With no one pulling him along, it didn’t work out that way."

Pletcher said jockey John Velazquez perhaps "could have tried to spread the race out a little, but the horse kind of idles a bit on his own when he’s on the lead."

Trainer Eric Guillot said Test Stakes winner Champagne d’Oro could make her start in either the Grade 1 Ballerina here Aug. 28 or the Grade 3, $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Master Stakes on Sept. 11.

Guillot said the decision could depend on whether he wants to run the 3-year-old filly once or twice more before the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Champagne d’Oro won the Test by 4 1/2 lengths, running seven furlongs in 1:22.71. She earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 97.