Quality Road & Super Saver
Quality Road schools at the gate; Super Saver on course for Travers
Multiple Grade 1 star QUALITY ROAD (Elusive Quality) had a special schooling session on the main track Monday morning at Saratoga, working with the NYRA gate crew in front of the grandstand as part of his preparations for Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Invitational H. (G1). For video of Quality Road schooling at the gate, click here.
Quality Road behaved perfectly with jockey John Velazquez aboard as he was loaded into the starting gate and backed out several times, both alone and in company with two other Todd Pletcher-trained horses.
"It's just a safety net," said Pletcher, who trains the nation's top older male for Edward P. Evans. "It's going to be a little different environment (in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney) starting in front of the grandstand, and we want to cover all bases."
Quality Road will be seeking his fourth straight victory in the Whitney, having swept the Metropolitan H. (G1), Donn H. (G1) and Hal's Hope S. (G3) this season.
Pletcher added that Evans' MALIBU PRAYER (Malibu Moon), who earned her first Grade 1 victory when she won Sunday's Ruffian Invitational, exited the race in good shape.
"We felt like she was a filly who had shown Grade 1 ability," Pletcher said.
One race under consideration for the Evans homebred is the Personal Ensign S. (G1) on August 29, where she would meet Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro).
Pletcher already has the streaking LIFE AT TEN (Malibu Moon) earmarked for the Personal Ensign, however, and he told Daily Racing Form that Malibu Prayer will probably aim for the August 29 Molly Pitcher S. (G2) at Monmouth instead.
Pletcher confirmed that Kentucky Derby (G1) hero SUPER SAVER (Maria's Mon), who finished fourth in Sunday's Haskell Invitational S. (G1), missing third by just a nose, will make his next appearance in the 141st running of the $1 million Travers S. (G1) on August 28 at the Spa.
"I thought it was a pretty good performance, but he did get tired during the last part," Pletcher said. "We're looking forward to the Travers."
The Haskell was the first start for Super Saver following his eighth-place performance in the Preakness S. (G1) on May 15.
On the New York worktab
At Saratoga on Monday, Grade 2 hero and dual classic-placed MUSKET MAN (Yonaguska) drilled five furlongs in a bullet :59 2/5, fastest of 34 works at the distance on the fast main track. Runner-up to Quality Road (Elusive Quality) in the Metropolitan H. (G1) last out, the Derek Ryan charge is possible for a rematch in Saturday's Whitney Invitational H. (G1).
Multiple Grade 3 winner MAMBO MEISTER (King Cugat), exiting a closing second in the Smile Sprint H. (G2), zipped three panels in :36 for Sunday's Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1). With jockey Kent Desormeaux up, the move was the fourth-fastest of 16 at the distance.
"Kent liked it, and I respect his judgment," trainer Phil Gleaves said. "He moved over the track very well. This gives us six days until the race, so all systems are go."
Grade 1 veteran GAYEGO (Gilded Time) sped five-eighths in 1:00 2/5. Third in the Triple Bend H. (G1) last time, he might reappear in the August 28 Pat O'Brien S. (G1) or September 4 Forego S. (G1).
Grade/Group 2 victor REGAL RANSOM (Distorted Humor), fourth in the Suburban H. (G2) in his comeback, clocked 1:00 4/5.
Mother Goose S. (G1) runner-up CONNIE AND MICHAEL (Roman Ruler) turned in the exact same time.
Impressive debut maiden-winning sophomore PISTOLS AT DAWN (Grand Slam) sizzled a half-mile in a bullet :46 1/5, easily best of 51 trials at the trip.
Stakes scorer BOOTS AHEAD (Storm Boot), unraced since his close fifth in the Appleton S. (G3) in March, was caught in :49.
Grade 2 king and Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) runner-up COURAGEOUS CAT (Storm Cat) returned to the worktab for the first time since his disappointing Dubai venture, covering three furlongs in :39 on the fast Oklahoma training track. The Mott trainee wound up ninth in the March 27 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-G1).
Unbeaten Bashford Manor S. (G3) conqueror KANTHAROS (Lion Heart), who has captured his two starts by a combined 21 1/4 lengths, ripped five panels in a bullet 1:00 2/5. The Steve Asmussen pupil is penciled in for the August 16 Saratoga Special S. (G2).
Grade 2 veteran FRIESAN FIRE (A.P. Indy), who has been off form of late, also fired a bullet 1:00 2/5.
Debut maiden romper WINE POLICE (Speightstown), probably bound for the September 6 Hopeful S. (G1), took a half-mile spin in :53 for Asmussen.
Grade 3 victor THISKYHASNOLIMIT (Sky Mesa), most recently a distant second in the Iowa Derby (G3), went in :49 1/5. Saturday's West Virginia Derby (G2) might be next.
Eight Belles S. (G3) winner BUCKLEUPBUTTERCUP (Najran) posted :50 in advance of a possible tilt at Saturday's Test S. (G1). She was second in the Azalea S. (G3) last time.
Debutante S. (G3) near-misser TRISTANME (Bwana Charlie), nominated to the August 15 Adirondack S. (G2), traveled five furlongs in 1:02.
Stakes veteran SIMPLIFY (Pulpit), runner-up in the Valid Expectations S. two back, negotiated four panels in :50 1/5.
Grade 2-placed CAPTAIN CHEROKEE (Sir Cherokee), a half-brother to sprint champion Midnight Lute who scored in a recent allowance, strode in :49 3/5.
Two Jonathan Sheppard trainees blew out six furlongs on the firm Oklahoma training turf for Thursday's A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-G2): Grade 2-winning steeplechaser DIVINE FORTUNE (Royal Anthem) blitzed in a sharp 1:12 1/5, while multiple stakes-winning steeplechaser THE PRICE OF LOVE (Prenup) finished up in 1:12 4/5.
Multiple Grade 2 veteran DRY MARTINI (Slew Gin Fizz) blitzed five-eighths on the green in :59 2/5 in preparation for Friday's John's Call S. The Barclay Tagg charge was last seen finishing a distant second to Quality Road in the Donn H. (G1).
Regret S. (G3) and Arlington Oaks (G3) runner-up SNOW TOP MOUNTAIN (Najran) completed her move in 1:03 on the same surface.
Fort Marcy S. (G3) scorer BALETTI (Gulch), exiting a sixth in the Monmouth S. (G3), breezed a grassy half-mile in :49.
Boynton Beach S. queen SEA ROAD (Tale of the Cat), the trailer in the Little Silver S., covered five furlongs in 1:01 on the lawn.
SUDDEN WAR (Arg) (Sunray Spirit), third in the San Luis Obispo H. (G2) and San Luis Rey H. (G2) earlier this season, toured four panels in :49 on the turf.
Over Belmont Park's fast training track, Grade 2 winner HOLD ME BACK (Giant's Causeway) strolled five furlongs in 1:03. The Bill Mott trainee is coming off a hard-fought success in the Dominion Day S. (Can-G3).
Grade 2 veteran SIR WHIMSEY (Jump Start), last seen taking the R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial S., breezed in a bullet 1:02 2/5.
Grade 3 heroine CHANGING SKIES (Ire) (Sadler's Wells), runner-up in the New York S. (G2), reeled off a half-mile in :48 4/5.
Multiple stakes winner SCOLARA (Quiet American), fourth in the Dr. James Penny Memorial H. last time, exercised in :49 2/5.
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