11/25/2009 12:00AM

Quality Road decision still pending


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Quality Road's status for Saturday's $300,000 Cigar Mile remained unresolved Wednesday morning and a new factor - Mother Nature - could play a role in whether the star-crossed 3-year-old runs in the Grade 1 race at Aqueduct.

Rain is forecast for the Metropolitan area on Friday and could possibly linger into Saturday morning. Chris Baker, the farm manager for owner Ed Evans, said Wednesday that Quality Road "would not run on an off track." Quality Road struggled with off tracks in the Travers, where he finished third, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he was second.

"We want it to be a positive experience in every way," Baker said. "If the weather looked completely bleak why spend the $3,000 to enter if the weather looks like it's going to be bad. We're not feeling a lot of pressure to run him. We're taking a cautious and thoughtful approach as to what's the best thing to do here. That's where we are and that's where we should be."

Quality Road, who was scratched from the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 after acting up at the gate and cutting himself, did jog at Belmont on Wednesday morning and schooled at the gate without incident.

Baker said that if Quality Road did not run in the Cigar Mile then he would likely not run again until the Gulfstream Park meeting. The Hal's Hope, a one-turn mile race on Jan. 3 that serves as a prep for the Donn Handicap on Feb. 6, could be an option. Quality Road won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby - setting a track record in the latter - last winter at Gulfstream.

Meanwhile, trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed that Munnings would not run in the Cigar Mile due to a foot problem. Pletcher also trains Quality Road.

As of Wednesday, the confirmed starters for Saturday's Cigar Mile included Kodiak Kowboy, Vineyard Haven, Pyro, Bribon - all Grade 1 winners - and Driven by Success.