08/01/2010 6:25PM

Quality Road, Blame tune up for Whitney Handicap



SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Quality Road and Blame, the two main protagonists for next Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, put in workouts just minutes apart Sunday over the main track.

As has become his custom, Quality Road worked effortlessly fast, going five furlongs in 59.93 seconds under exercise rider Patti Barry. Meanwhile, Blame, working in company with stablemate Heritage Hall, worked four furlongs in a relatively easy 48.83 seconds under jockey Garrett Gomez.

Both horses worked after the renovation break, during the busiest time of the morning. Blame was among the first to work, starting about three-quarters of a length behind Heritage Hall at the half-mile pole. It appeared as though Blame was going to be joined in by a horse who was finishing a gate work, but that horse was pulled up before getting to Blame.

Blame quickly pulled on even terms with Heritage Hall and went his first eighth in 12.23 seconds, and 23.81 for the quarter. Gomez stayed relatively motionless through a final quarter of 25.02 seconds. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.89.

“I told Garrett to go between 48 and 49 [seconds] and give him a nice gallop out and that’s exactly what he did. It was a good move,” said trainer Al Stall, who moved the work up from Monday to avoid the potential of an off track. “We were barely able to get him up to the paddock he was so sky high, and working six days out from the race I wanted to take a little of the edge off and let him blow off a little steam.”

As Blame was jogging back to go off the track, Quality Road was galloping around the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch getting ready to break into his move. Quality Road went off in relatively easy fractions of 13.00 seconds and 24.81 before picking it up on his own. He went three furlongs in 36.43, a half-mile in 48.01, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.46.

“The thing that stands out is how easily he’s doing what he’s doing, watching him cool out, watching the way he finishes, and gallops out with Patti sitting motionless on him,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Weights for the Whitney were released on Sunday and Quality Road, the Donn Handicap and Metropolitan Handicap winner, was assigned top weight of 126 pounds. Blame, the Stephen Foster winner, gets in at 121 while 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird was assigned 118 pounds. Haynesfield, the Suburban winner, will carry 116 pounds. Jardim, a Brazilian-bred who is winless in two North American starts, gets in at 113.

Among those still under consideration are Musket Man (117) and Redding Colliery (115).

The post position draw for the Whitney will take place 11 a.m. Wednesday in the paddock at Saratoga.

Franny Freud, the probable favorite for Saturday’s Grade 1 Test for 3-year-old fillies, worked five furlongs in 59.91 seconds under exercise Simon Harris. After going her first three furlongs in 36.87 seconds, Franny Freud came home in a sharp 23.04 seconds.

“She handles this track a little better than Belmont,” Harris said.

Other Test runners who put in works Sunday morning included the undefeated Belle of the Hall, who went five furlongs in 1:01.12; Champagne d’Oro, the Grade 1 Acorn winner, who went in 48.67 seconds; and Pica Slew, the Grade 3 Azalea winner, who went four furlongs in 46.91 seconds.

Others pointing to the Test include Buckleupbuttercup, Christine Daae, Katy Now, Lovely Lil, and Tidal Pool.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch