Quality Road strong favorite in Saratoga’s Whitney
Quality Road will try to strengthen his challenge to undefeated
mare Zenyatta for Horse of the Year honors in the $750,000, Grade 1
Whitney Invitational Handicap on Saturday at Saratoga Race
The Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old is a prohibitive 2-5
morning line favorite on the strength of Grade 1 victories in the
Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and Metropolitan Handicap at
Belmont Park. He is undefeated in three starts this season and
broke his own course record at Gulfstream in the Donn.
A victory in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney will put Quality Road in
position to threaten 17-for-17 Zenyatta, who faces a weak field of
females on Saturday in the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar.
”I think he certainly belongs in any conversation about the
best horse in training,” Pletcher said. ”I think if you look at
his Donn, for example, that was just an unbelievable performance,
and then to come back and turn in a similar performance in the Met.
We believe he is the best horse in the country.”
Stephen Foster Handicap winner Blame and Mine That Bird, winner
of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, are the most accomplished of five who
will oppose Quality Road and rider John Velazquez.
The late-developing 4-year-old Blame, winner of both his 2010
starts, is trained by Albert Stall and will be ridden by Garrett
Gomez. Though less ambitiously campaigned, he has a career record
of 7-for-10 and never worse than third, identical to Quality
”We feel like we’re ready and the time to catch the best horse
in the country is when we’re at the top of our game,” Stall
Mine That Bird, without a victory since his 50-1 Kentucky Derby
surprise, is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who said he expects a
change in running style. Mine That Bird has always raced well
behind the early pace. Calvin Borel will be aboard.
”We don’t have any grandiose idea that we can run down Blame or
Quality Road or some of these others from left field,” Lukas said.
”We’ve been training a little bit different and he’s showing a bit
more turn of foot, so we won’t be as far back, hopefully.”
Completing the field is Musket Man, runner-up to Quality Road in
the Metropolitan Handicap; Haynesfield, winner of four straight but
untested in Grade I company; and Jardim, a Brazilian import without
a victory in the U.S.