05/27/2010 11:00PM

Quality Road faces seven in Met Mile


ELMONT, N.Y. - Quality Road will face seven challengers when he returns to the races for the first time in four months in Monday's Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Quality Road, the 124-pound highweight, will be making his first start since he won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap by 12 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 6, with a season-high Beyer Speed Figure of 121. He will break from post 7 under John Velazquez.

The Met Mile is run at one turn. Quality Road, trained by Todd Pletcher, has won both of his starts in one-turn mile races -- the Fountain of Youth at age 3 and the Hal's Hope earlier this year at Gulfstream.

Warrior's Reward and Musket Man, separated by a nose in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct on April 3, head the list of challengers. Warrior's Reward had been expected to run in the Met, but the connections of Musket Man had been leaning toward running in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs to avoid facing Quality Road.

"The whole plan was to win the Carter and come here, and we got beat a zap," Derek Ryan, the trainer of Musket Man, said Friday from Monmouth Park. "It's right up the road. Who knows, in two weeks time it could be pouring rain at Churchill. We're getting seven pounds, I know my horse loves Belmont Park, he broke his maiden there."

Musket Man will break from post 3 under Ramon Dominguez.

Ryan said Quality Road ``is the best older horse in the country. The only way to knock him off is to try and beat him.''

After getting beat in the Carter, Musket Man came back to run third in the Churchill Downs Handicap in the slop, 3 1/4 lengths behind loose-on-the-lead winner Atta Boy Roy. Warrior's Reward finished second in that race.

Warrior's Reward will break from post 4 under Calvin Borel.

Le Grand Cru and Convocation, the top two finishers in the Grade 3 Westchester here on April 30, are back. Le Grand Cru drew the outside in the eight-horse field. Convocation will break from the rail.

The Met Mile will go as race 10 on an 11-race card that also includes the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Six of the eight fillies in the Sands Point have won their last start, including Check the Label, who took the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on April 15. In her previous start, Check the Label was beaten one length by Khancord Kid in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream. Khancord Kid is back in this race after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on dirt.

Also in the field are Ultimate Class, More is Better, Hit It Rich, Strike It Rich, Crescenda, and Negligee.