09/25/2009 11:00PM

Summer Bird, Quality Road work for Jockey Club

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Barbara D. Livingston
Quality Road, shown in the foreground of an August workout at Saratoga, will try and better his third-place finish in the Travers on Saturday when he is rematched with Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Travers first- and third-place finishers Summer Bird and Quality Road completed preparations for their rematch in next Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup here by putting in five-furlong workouts Saturday morning over Belmont Park's main track.

Neither horse was asked for much by their riders in their final breezes as Summer Bird went five furlongs in 1:02.37, working by himself under regular rider Kent Desormeaux, while Quality Road, working in company with stablemate Denver, covered the same distance in 1:01.65 under regular jockey John Velazquez.

A field of six or seven is shaping up for the Gold Cup, one of five Grade 1 stakes on Saturday's program. Others pointing to the race include Dry Martini, Macho Again, Sette E Mezzo, and Tizway. Asiatic Boy is possible.

Summer Bird's chestnut coat glistened under the abundant sunshine as he backed up to the finish line before turning around to get into his work. With Desormeaux keeping Summer Bird three paths off the rail and maintaining a tight hold of the reins, Summer Bird went his first eighth in 12.84 seconds and his opening quarter in 25.79. Desormeaux never asked the colt for run through the lane, as Summer Bird went his last three furlongs in 36.58 seconds while galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.33 and pulling up seven-eighths in 1:28.34.

Saturday's work came one week after Summer Bird went five furlongs in 59.99 seconds, a move that his trainer, Tim Ice, felt was quicker than he wanted.

"We just wanted to slow him down," Ice said. "You look at his work pattern, there are very few minute-flat works on his tab. Today was more getting him to relax and let him finish, and that's what we got."

Shortly after Summer Bird worked, Quality Road appeared on the track and he backed up all the way to the mile pole under Velazquez. Quality Road and his stablemate, Denver, broke off together and went in fractions of 13.05 for the first eighth, 25.23 for the quarter, and 36.99 seconds for three furlongs before coming home in 24.66 seconds. Quality Road finished about a neck in front of Denver at the wire, though he did it totally on his own as Velazquez hardly flinched. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.86.

"He had a very solid work last time with a big gallop-out so we were just looking for a maintenance five-eighths," said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Quality Road. "I'm very happy with the way he's doing it; nice and relaxed."

Quality Road won the Florida Derby on March 28 and then didn't run again until Aug. 3 when he won the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga by 2 1/4 lengths, while running a track record 1:13.74 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Other notable works Saturday included Gio Ponti, who went five furlongs in 1:00.97 on the turf in preparation for the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic; Music Note, who went five furlongs in 1:01.05 for the Beldame; and Fabulous Strike, the probable Vosburgh favorite, who went five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at Penn National.

Bullsbay to miss Gold Cup and Goodwood

Whitney Handicap winner Bullsbay, who was being considered for the Jockey Club or the Goodwood at Santa Anita on Oct. 10, will not make either race after suffering an injury to his right front foot, trainer Graham Motion said.

Motion said that Bullsbay stepped on something sharp coming off the track earlier in the week at the Fair Hill training center and injured the frog, or bottom of the foot. Motion said that he has had to treat the horse aggressively with antibiotics, which will preclude him from running the next couple of weeks.

Motion said it's still possible Bullsbay could train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.