06/08/2009 12:00AM

Quality Road back to work

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Quality Road is being pointed to 3-year-old stakes later this summer.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Jimmy Jerkens won't dwell on what might have been, but he is certainly looking forward to the second half of the year to see what might be.

Jerkens is the trainer of Quality Road, the talented 3-year-old who was forced to miss the recently concluded Triple Crown series due to problems associated with a quarter crack in his right front foot. On Monday, two days after the Belmont Stakes was run, Quality Road returned to the work tab with a three-furlong breeze in 38.83 seconds over Belmont Park's training track. It was his first work since April 17, when he was considered by many to be the favorite for the May 2 Kentucky Derby.

A three-furlong breeze is a long way from the starting gate, but it could be the first steps toward Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner, jumping back into the jumbled 3-year-old championship picture.

"He just stretched his legs a little bit, it was all right," said Jerkens, who noted that Quality Road had two bar shoes on for the breeze.

Jerkens said "anything is possible" for Quality Road's return to the races, including a race such as the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Aug. 1. Given the difficulties Quality Road had in the weeks after the Florida Derby, Jerkens wasn't eager to make plans.

"Of course I'm looking forward to it, but you got to be stupid to say anything," Jerkens said about the second half of the year. "So much stuff can happen and always does."

On Saturday, Jerkens may have found himself a second 3-year-old with which to hit the summer's big races. Convocation, a son of Pulpit, looked simply awesome cruising to a 6 3/4-length victory in a one-turn, one-mile maiden race. With jockey Kent Desormeaux motionless in the final furlong, Convocation ran a mile in 1:35.38 and earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He did what we always thought he could," Jerkens said.

Convocation had made three prior starts, but found some kind of trouble in each one. Jerkens said the Dwyer, a 1 1/16-mile race here July 4, "is definitely worth considering."

Convocation, a son of Pulpit, was a $340,000 purchase by Centennial Farms as a 2-year-old.

King's Bishop the goal for Munnings

Munnings was arguably the most impressive 3-year-old to perform on Saturday's card, exploding through a gaping hole in upper stretch and drawing off to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes. He ran seven furlongs in 1:20.63 and earned a 110 Beyer.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said his primary goal for Munnings, a son of the Pletcher-trained champion sprinter Speightstown, is the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 29. How he gets there is yet to be determined.

On Monday morning, Pletcher said he doesn't have a problem stretching Munnings out in distance for his next start before turning him back to seven furlongs again in the King's Bishop. Races like the Dwyer, a one-turn 1 1/16-mile race, or the $1omillion Haskell Invitational, a two-turn 1 1/8-mile race at Monmouth on Aug. 2, are possible.

"I'm not 100 percent sure he won't get a mile and a sixteenth or a mile and an eighth around two turns," Pletcher said. "The only time he ran two turns is a throw-out."

Pletcher was referring to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, a race run over a Pro-Ride synthetic surface where Munnings finished 10th.

Meanwhile, Woody Stephens runner-up Everyday Heroes, has been transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin from Tim Ritchey. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley Stable privately purchased Everyday Heroes after his win in the Hirsch Jacobs on Preakness Day.

McLaughlin said he too would look at the King's Bishop but would likely use the Amsterdam, a 6 1/2-furlong race at Saratoga on Aug. 3, as a prep.

Diamondrella may stretch farther

Trainer Angel Penna Jr. had no concerns that Diamondrella could handle the one-turn mile of Saturday's Just a Game. That's why he was surprised to see her pay $21.20 in winning for the sixth straight time and first beyond seven furlongs.

Now, Penna plans to sit down with jockey Rajiv Maragh to get his thoughts on whether the filly will stretch out farther. If Maragh says yes, Diamondrella would likely make her next start in the Grade 1 Diana, a two-turn 1 1/8-mile race at Saratoga on Aug. 1. Last year, Forever Together won the Diana at odds of 9-1 in her first try at 1 1/8 miles on turf. It was Forever Together whom Diamondrella defeated Saturday and who will likely show up in the Diana again.

"If everybody agrees the distance is not a problem, the next logical step would be the Diana," Penna said. "I want to talk to Rajiv. I want to get a feel for what he felt underneath him."

Diamondrella earned a 104 Beyer for her victory.

No plans yet for Gio Ponti

Trainer Christophe Clement said he is no hurry to make plans for Manhattan Handicap winner Gio Ponti, who in his last two starts has won Grade 1 races at a mile and at 1o1/4 miles, over firm turf and soft.

Clement noted that the next round of Grade 1 races in the division are the United Nations at Monmouth on July 4 and the Man o' War here Julyo11. Both races are at 1 3/8 miles. If he elects not to stretch Gio Ponti out that far, he could simply wait for the Arlington Million at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 8.

"We don't have to decide now, we'll just sit and wait," Clement said.

Gio Ponti earned a 106 Beyer for his victory.

Music Note back in Phipps picture

After a subpar workout last week that put her status for Saturday's Grade 1 Ogden Phipps in doubt, Music Note rebounded Monday with a four-furlong move in 48.24 seconds Monday morning that likely puts her back in the starting gate for the $300,000 race.

Music Note, a three-time Grade 1 winner over Belmont's main track, has not started since she finished third in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic last October. On June 2, she worked six furlongs in 1:14.20, coming home significantly slower than usual.

On Monday, she came home in 23 seconds for the last quarter, according to Rick Mettee, the assistant who oversees Godolphin Racing's New York stable.

"She looked like she did in her other works," Mettee said. "I wish her major work was better than that, but she came home in 11 and change, 23 for the last quarter, and galloped out good."

Godolphin's Seventh Street worked a strong half-mile in 47.21 seconds following the renovation break and will be seeking her second consecutive Grade 1 win. She took the Apple Blossom in April at Oaklawn.

Music Note was made the 122-pound highweight for the Phipps, while Seventh Street gets in at 119. The only other two confirmed starters are Shuvee one-two finishers Seattle Smooth (121) and Color Me Up (114).