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Aug 06, 2010

Quality Road heads Whitney Invitational



Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Quality Road, trained by Todd Pletcher, tops a field of six for Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Invitational at Saratoga Race Course. The winner of the 1 1/8-mile Whitney gains automatic entry into this year's Breeders' Cup Classic.

Owned by Edward Evans, Quality Road will be ridden by John Velazquez from post three. The winner of last year's Florida Derby has been made a heavy 2-5 program favorite for the Whitney.

"I think we have a fit and happy horse, which is the goal," Pletcher declared.

Perfect in three starts this year, Quality Road has a career bankroll of more than $1.6 million with seven wins in 10 lifetime starts. The colt is coming off a win in the Met Mile on Memorial Day at Belmont Park.

In February he won the Donn Handicap by more than a dozen lengths at Gulfstream Park. Quality Road began his 2010 season in January by taking the Hal's Hope Stakes at the south Florida track.

Last year at Saratoga, Quality Road won the Amsterdam Stakes and was third to Summer Bird in the Travers.

Quality Road has been second most of the year in the National Thoroughbred Poll behind undefeated mare Zenyatta.

"I think Quality Road certainly belongs in any conversation about the best horse in training," Pletcher noted. "I think if you look at his Donn Handicap, for example, that was just an unbelievable race, and then to come back with a similar performance in the Met Mile - we believe he is the best horse in training."

Stephen Foster champ Blame will make his second career start at Saratoga in the Whitney. The four-year-old won last year's Curlin Stakes for three-year- olds.

Trained by Al Stall, Jr., Blame will be ridden again by Garrett Gomez from post two and is the 4-1 second choice.

"I believe he will improve off his Stephen Foster victory; hopefully, the trip will work out tactically," said Stall. "At least with a smaller field, he won't be hung out in the 11 hole.

"He can handle anything. Nothing bothers that horse. We're ready for the task. This is his third race this year. We're excited to be here and run in the Whitney. We are ready to take on all comers. I'm looking forward to it."

Blame has earned better than $1 million for owner Adele Dilschneider. In 10 career starts the colt has seven wins, including his last four in a row. This year he also won the William Donald Schaefer Stakes at Pimlico.

Also in the field are 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, Suburban Handicap champ Haynesfield and Met Mile runner-up Musket Mam.

Here is the complete field for the Whitney in post position order: Mine That Bird, Calvin Borel, 12-1; Blame, Garrett Gomez, 4-1; Quality Road, John Velazquez, 2-5; Haynesfield, Ramon Dominguez, 12-1; Jardim, Julien Leparoux, 30-1; and Musket Man, Rajiv Maragh, 6-1.

Post-time for the 83rd Whitney is set for 5:50 p.m. (et).

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