08/15/2009 11:00PM

Quality Road works for Travers


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Quality Road remained on schedule for his start in the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 29 by working a solid six furlongs in 1:12.76 Sunday morning over Saratoga's main track in company with the Grade 1-winning mare Unbridled Belle.

It was Quality Road's first move since he won the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes on Aug. 3 a race in which he ran 6 1/2 furlongs in a track record 1:13.74. That was Quality Road's first start since he won the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28 at Gulfstream Park.

With John Velazquez aboard, Quality Road began his move about two lengths behind Unbridled Belle, with Patti Barry up. Quality Road went his first quarter in 12.76 seconds while tracking Unbridled Belle but by the middle of the turn, Quality Road was on even terms with the 6-year-old mare, breezing three furlongs in 36.69 seconds. The two worked together until deep stretch when Velazquez let his reins out slightly and Quality Road finished about a half-length in front.

Velazquez then asked Quality Road to gallop out seven furlongs in 1:25.30, according to Pletcher's watch.

"I thought it went perfectly,'' Pletcher said. "I thought he did it well, he was relaxed early but into the bridle, finished up well. The only thing I cautioned Johnny about was when he gets to the wire he's probably going to prick his ears, he's not going to offer a real big gallop out unless you ask him for it so he shook him up and made him gallop out good.''

Pletcher had Quality Road going out a mile in 1:40.83.

Though Quality Road is trying to make it to the Travers with just one 6 1/2-furlong race in five months, Pletcher believes he's on target to make it happen.

"Up to this point right now, everything could not have gone better,'' said Pletcher, who took over the training of Quality Road on June 15. "The horse ran great, he came out of the race great, he had a great work today. We still got a couple of weeks to go but up to this point everything has fallen into place.''

Pletcher was also pleased with Unbridled Belle, who was officially timed in 1:13.25. She is being pointed to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign here on Aug. 30. Unbridled Belle finished second in that race in 2007 and third in 2008.

"She needed a good work, she kind of idled a little on her own the other day,'' said Pletcher, referring to a five-furlong work in 1:01.72 on Aug. 10. "You're always a little bit worried who you're going to match up with a horse like this - you don't want to abuse a barnmate - but in this case it worked out well for both of them. It was the kind of work that will help both horses."