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Aug 13, 2010

Rematch between Blame and Quality Road not immediate

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Saturday's dramatic stretch drive between Blame and Quality Road in the Whitney Handicap will have to satisfy race fans for more than a month. The earliest the two four-year-olds will meet again appears to be the Jockey Club Gold Cup in October.

Whitney winner Blame, co-owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, will be given time off until the October 2nd running of the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

"Seth Hancock (of Claiborne Farm) was here this morning (Sunday) and we firmed things up - the Jockey Club Gold Cup will be his next race," said trainer Al Stall, Jr. "It will be that, and then the Breeders' Cup Classic. We'll take him back to Keeneland in a couple of weeks, let him train there, and bring him back up to Belmont."

Trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed that beaten favorite Quality Road will start in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 4, a race won last year by Rachel Alexandra.

"If he continues to do well, I see no reason to change our plans," Pletcher said. "It was still a very good effort and we lost to a very good horse."

The Whitney turned out to be one of the best races of the year.

Quality Road, who was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the six horse field, set a modest pace in the 1 1/8-mile stakes. Undefeated in three starts this year coming into the Whitney, Quality Road appeared set for a big win under jockey John Velazquez.

"He was basically alone on the lead," Pletcher noted. "He's generally a little more focused when he has a target (but) there wasn't anyone eager to take the lead."

Quality Road had a clear lead at the top of the stretch until Blame, ridden by Garrett Gomez, dug in to offer up a challenge.

"I thought if he (Blame) were in striking distance at the three-eighths pole, he had a shot," said Stall. "He really does have a great punch from the three- eighths pole, and Garrett was just reeling Quality Road in, reeling him in. Inside the eighth pole, you could see he had a little more momentum than Quality Road."

Blame drew even with Quality Road in deep stretch and was able to get past the favorite only yards before the wire.

"I was just biding my time until we turned for home," winning jockey Gomez said following the race. "I just didn't want to sit too long because he's got a long, consistent run and just keeps coming."

Gomez timed his ride perfectly to edge out Quality Road by a head in the 1 1/8-mile effort.

"He (Quality Road) got beat spotting an extremely good horse five pounds," Pletcher commented. "Not taking anything away from Blame; we look forward to trying him at equal weights."

Third-place finisher Musket Man came out of the Whitney in good shape and will continue to face the best in the handicap division.

"He looks pretty good, no problems," Musket Man's trainer Derek Ryan said on Sunday. "We'll probably keep him going long now for the rest of the year. One of these days he's going to get a legitimate pace and a race will set up for him. I'll probably either run him back here (in the Woodward) or wait for the Hawthorne Gold Cup, then the Breeders' Cup."

The 1 1/4-mile Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne Race Course is the same day as the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday, October 2.

Also coming out of the Whitney was 2009 Kentucky Derby champ Mine That Bird. Winless since taking last year's Run for the Roses, Mine That Bird was fifth and will probably start in the Woodward.

"Right now that would be the next stop," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "I'll talk to the owners, get their input, but that's definitely an option."

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