WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Quality Road Wins Metropolitan Handicap

It's been quite a month for trainer Todd
Pletcher. It began with his first Kentucky Derby win with Super
Saver, and ended with his first Metropolitan Handicap win with
Quality Road Monday.
Now, it could turn out to be quite a year for Quality Road.
Unlucky as a 3-year-old, Quality Road is a perfect 3-0 as a
4-year-old.
In winning the $500,000 Met Mile by 1½ lengths, Quality Road
produced an effort that had Pletcher marveling at the brilliance of
the colt he began training last summer.
"It was very impressive, and watching him come back and seeing
how he hardly took a deep breath, it's unbelievable how talented he
is," Pletcher said. "He's such a versatile horse. He set a track
record at Saratoga at 6½ furlongs and two track records at
Gulfstream at 1 1-8 miles. He showed today he's a brilliant
miler."
Fresh and well rested in his first race in nearly four months,
Quality took charge just after the start and barely broke a sweat
in holding off a mild challenge from runner-up Musket Man.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Quality Road covered the mile in
1:33.11 over a fast track in winning for the seventh time in 10
career starts for owner Edward P. Evans.
"The first quarter was easy enough for him, and I thought `let
them come get him,"' Velazquez said. After that we picked it up.
He was game today."
Quality Road, the 1-4 favorite, returned $2.50, $2.10 and $2.10.
Musket Man, who has hit the board in all 12 of his career starts,
paid $3.50 and $2.90. Tizway paid $5.50 to show.
Convocation was fourth, followed by Le Grand Cru, Warrior's
Reward, Kensei and You and I Forever.
Quality Road started the year with a victory in the Hal's Hope
on Jan. 3 at Gulfstream Park and followed up with a 12¾-length win
in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 6.
By design, Pletcher kept Quality Road away from the races to
have him ready for what could turn into a championship season.
Pletcher is planning a campaign that would lead to the Breeders'
Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.
Pletcher said he'll consider the Suburban on July 3 and the
Whitney on Aug. 7 for Quality Road but said "you want to make sure
he's still peaking in November, too, so you want to be careful how
many times you take him over there. But my first impression was
this was not a taxing race."
A year ago, Quality Road would have been the favorite for the
Derby, but a foot injury knocked the son of Elusive Quality out of
the Triple Crown races. Evans then took the horse from trainer
Jimmy Jerkens and sent him to Pletcher.
The colt won the Amsterdam in his first start for Pletcher, then
finished third in the Travers and second in the Jockey Club Gold
Cup. He had to be scratched from the BC Classic at Santa Anita
after a scary incident in which he refused to be loaded into the
starting gate.
If he keeps winning, Quality Road may get another chance at the
Classic.


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