Pletcher Works Five for Cup
Quality Road, winner of the Grade I Woodward in his most recent outing and a major contender for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo, the likely favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, headed a group of five horses from the stable of trainer Todd Pletcher working today at Churchill Downs.
The versatile Quality Road, who also earned Grade I wins this year in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and Belmont’s Metropolitan Handicap, worked four furlongs in :48.60 in company with Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Exercise rider Patty Krotenko was in the saddle as Quality Road covered the distance over a fast track in fractional splits of :12, :24.20 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.
Quality Road, running on the outside, finished about length in front of Aikenite, who was timed in :48.80 for his half-mile under veteran exercise rider Kevin Willey.
“I thought both horses worked very well,” said Pletcher. “Quality Road is obviously an exceptionally talented horse and does things very easily. I thought it was a good, progressive work. He picked it up down the lane, galloped out well and seemed to get over the ground extremely well.”
Uncle Mo finished his preparations for the Juvenile by working four furlongs in company with his Repole stablemate Stay Thirsty (photo by Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs), and the colts finished together in :50.60. Uncle Mo, a son of Indian Charlie and a strong winner of the Grade I Champagne in his most recent start, worked on the outside of that duo under Horacio De Paz, while Krotenko was aboard Stay Thirsty. The pair worked in fractional times of :12.60, :25.40 and :37.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.60.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever worked them together, although they have both worked in company quite a bit,” Pletcher said. “We were not looking for a whole lot from either one. Stay Thirsty had a lot of his conditioning done at Belmont, and Uncle Mo obviously is running back 28 days, and ran a mile in 1:34-and-change 22 days ago.
“I kind of let them get a little feel for the track. I thought it was a little slower than I wanted it to be, but it was the right kind of slow. They went each eighth a little faster than the previous one. I thought Uncle Mo galloped out particularly well. He was all the way back to the half-mile pole before he actually pulled up.”
The other Pletcher trainee to work was Rose Catherine, a 3-year-old filly who will take on males in the Turf Sprint. The daughter of Speightstown breezed four furlongs around the dogs on firm turf under De Paz in :49.60. She was eager as she broke off for the move, covered her opening quarter in :26.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.40.
“She’s a superior work horse and would work as fast as a horse could possibly work if you allowed her to,” Pletcher said. “But when you’re going five-eighths on the grass, they need to be ready to roll, and that’s her game. I thought she worked very well. Sometimes you have to be a little careful with her, or she will do way too much, but we had a nice, quiet turf course. No one else was out there and she handled it real well.”
Pletcher worked five horses on Saturday: Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic), Malibu Prayer (Ladies’ Classic), R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies), More Than Real (Juvenile Fillies Turf), and Pluck (Juvenile Turf). He said all came out of their works well and appear ready for their Breeders’ Cup races on Friday..
“I thought for preparing 10 horses here for the Breeders’ Cup, all 10 works were right within the range of what we were looking for,” he said. “When you have horses that are fit and ready to go, you just want to keep them happy in their last breezes. I think we accomplished that.”
(Edited from track notes)