SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- As expected, Woodward winner Quality Road will train up to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, his connections said Sunday.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said statistically his stable is successful with horses coming off extended layoffs. Quality Road himself has run dynamic races off lengthy layoffs, including setting a track record here going 6 1/2 furlongs in last year's Amsterdam off a 128-day layoff and running the second fastest Metropolitan Handicap in May off a 114-day freshening.
"That's how you'd like to come into the biggest and most important race, doing what you do best," Pletcher said Sunday morning. "Seems like our horses tend to run their best races with a little bit of space in between."
The Classic is run at 1 1/4 miles, a distance at which Quality Road has yet to win. Last year, he finished third in the Travers and second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at that distance, both times to Summer Bird and both times over a sloppy racetrack.
"The Jockey Club Gold Cup wasn't a bad race," Pletcher said. "I think he gets the mile and a quarter; we just obviously would like to do it on a fast surface."
On Saturday, Quality Road won the Woodward by 4 3/4 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.00. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106, his lowest number since he won the Hal's Hope with a 103 to begin the year.
"I think there was a lot more in the tank yesterday, but based on the way he came back after the race he wasn't hardly even blowing," Pletcher said. "I think he made the lead awfully easy, coasted in from the eighth pole. When you're 4 3/4 lengths clear, it's hard to ask for a whole lot more, but I think he was prepared to run a whole lot faster had it been necessary."
Mine That Bird raced closer to the pace than he had in his previous starts, but he still finished last. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he may shorten Mine That Bird up in distance to seven furlongs or a mile.
"We got part of what we wanted, but we didn't get the finish," Lukas said. "I loved the way he laid into the race and showed that speed and everything. That was a new dimension for him, but we didn't get the finish we wanted. I may try him short. We're trying different things. He's a gelding; we're going to have to make him useful."