08/01/2009 12:00AM

Tough spot for Quality Road's comeback

Reed Palmer Photography
Capt. Candyman Can, idle since winning the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs in May, returns in Monday's Amsterdam at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Most of the focus in Monday's $150,000 Amsterdam at Saratoga will be on the return of Quality Road, the leader of the 3-year-old division before being sidelined by a foot injury in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby. But the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam is anything but a one-horse race.

Quality Road will have to be on top of his game in the Grade 2 Amsterdam if he's to defeat a quality field of 3-year-olds that includes Capt. Candyman Can, Everyday Heroes, Custom for Carlos, Cabaret Cowboy, and Captain Cherokee. Quality Road has not started since capturing the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28. He was transferred from trainer James Jerkens to Todd Pletcher's barn earlier this summer and has been working forwardly for his return.

"He hasn't run in a while, and six and one-half furlongs is a little short of his best game, but he's a good horse and we're not planning on giving him a race in here," said Pletcher. "If he shows up well, we'll consider putting him on target for the Travers."

Quality Road figures to race on or close to the early pace in the Amsterdam along with Everyday Heroes and Custom for Carlos.

Everyday Heroes also has found a new home since his last start. He was purchased by Darley Stable and turned over to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin following his second-place finish behind Munnings in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens. The defeat was the first in five tries for Everyday Heroes, who won his first four starts with trainer Tim Richey.

"It's a very tough race and we're not in an ideal spot breaking from the rail, which will probably force our hand from the start," said McLaughlin.

Capt. Candyman Can has won three of his last four starts, all at seven furlongs, with his only setback during that period a fourth-place finish behind Quality Road in the one-mile Fountain of Youth last winter at Gulfstream Park. Capt. Candyman Can, a three-time graded stakes winner, has not started since capturing the Matt Winn on May 16.

"I guess you can say Quality Road owes us one," trainer Ian Wilkes said. "But it's a different ballgame this time. He's been off for a while and my horse is much better at distances from six to seven furlongs than a mile."

Custom for Carlos has won each of his last two starts by six lengths, including the Grade 3 Jersey Shore at Monmouth Park.