Unlike the Whitney a few weeks ago, Edward P. Evans’ Virginia-brd Quality Road came off the turn with a commanding lead in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes Gr.I, and was never challenged.
With a couple taps of the stick and a vigorous hand ride by John Velazquez, the four-year-old son of Elusive Quality bounded home for a convincing 4 3/4–length victory as the 3-10 favorite on Sept. 4, locking up his third grade I score of the year and fourth overall.
The morning after Quality Road’s 4 3/4-length win in the $750,000 Woodward, Pletcher said the 4-year-old son of Elusive Quality is headed next to the 1 ¼ mile Breeders’ Cup Classic Gr.I.
“I think there was a lot more in the tank based on the way he came back; he was hardly even blowing,” said a clearly delighted Pletcher. “He made the lead kind of easily and coasted home from the eighth pole. He was prepared to run a lot faster had it been necessary, but when you’re 4 ¾ lengths clear, it’s hard to ask for a whole lot more.”
Pletcher said that Quality Road exited his Woodward victory in excellent shape. The win was the colt’s fourth in five starts this year, and third in a grade I along with the Met Mile and the Donn Handicap. Pletcher believes the Edward P. Evans color-bearer is solidly back in the picture for Horse of the Year honors after rebounding from a narrow loss to Blame in the Whitney Handicap Gr.I.
“I think if he gets the 1 ¼ miles he can do it with the time in between,” said Pletcher. “For me statistically, we’ve always done well with that kind of time frame, so we’d like to come into the biggest and most important race with what we do best. Our horses tend to run their best races with that kind of spacing between them.”