Tuesday, August 4, 2009

VIRGINIA'S TOP RACEHORSE BACK ON TRACK

It didn't look like a track record, but it was...

And just when it appeared there wasn't a three-year-old in the country who could run with super-filly Rachel Alexandra, Edward P. Evans' Virginia-bred Quality Road returned from a four-month hiatus to register a record-setting 2 1/4-length victory over Capt. Candyman Can in Monday's $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes Gr.II at Saratoga.

Quality Road, the likely favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby before being sidelined by reoccurring quarter cracks, covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.45.

The timer stopped him at 1:07.22 for six furlongs, a time so fast that folks had to wonder if it was correct. The track record for six furlongs at Saratoga is a long-standing 1:08 by Virginia-connected Spanish Riddle. The officials went back and hand timed the race and confirmed the time.

His final time shattered the course record set by Topsider in 1979 by nearly a full second. Quality Road, by Elusive Quality out Kobla by Strawberry Road, who was transferred from trainer Jimmy Jerkens to Todd Pletcher's barn, set the record despite stumbling at the start and racing wide throughout the race.

Simply put, Quality Road, who is a very cool customer pre-race, is so fast he doesn't look fast.
"Any time you run a horse for the first time with his potential, you want everything to go well, and we were hoping he'd run just as well for us as he had for Jimmy," said Pletcher. "He stumbled at the start and it took him a while to recover and get the position we'd hoped he'd be in. From there, he got the trip.

"Racing wide was not a concern," Pletcher added, "because with a big horse and the long stride he has, you want to let him do his thing and not have anything get in his way."
Pletcher has said all along that he was using the Amsterdam as a stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Travers, and a potential matchup with Rachel Alexandra.

"I have tremendous respect for the filly, she's a phenomenon," said Pletcher, whose colt Munnings finished third to Rachel Alexandra the previous afternoon in the Haskell. "With a stable our size, chances are we're going to run into her somewhere along the line, and if we do, we'd like it to be with our best horse."

Click on the chart for a better look.

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