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Sep 03, 2010

Quality Road out to make amends in Woodward Stakes


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Four weeks after coming up a head short in the Whitney Handicap, Quality Road will once again go postward on Saturday in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

The colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, will take on six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile race. All seven entered are four-year-olds and will each carry 126 pounds.

Owned by Edward Evans, Quality Road lost the Whitney in the final strides to Blame as the 1-2 favorite. For the Woodward, the colt will start from post three with John Velazquez again riding.

"We were a half-a-head short of (being unbeaten) this year," said Pletcher of Quality Road's 2010 campaign. "Every race is paramount; they're all important. If you lose, you regroup and try again, to regain his confidence, and regain our confidence."

Quality Road has won three of four starts this year, including the Hal's Hope, Donn Handicap and Met Mile. He has earned $810,000 in 2010 and nearly $1.8 million in his career.

Mine That Bird, 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, will attempt to win for the first time since his stunning victory in the Run for the Roses. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the gelding will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from post two. Calvin Borel had been the regular jockey for the four-year-old.

Owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird was fifth in the Whitney Handicap.

"I thought he got totally out of touch with the race. Frankly, he got so far back," Lukas said. "I think it was a conditioning experience. I don't think it was a learning experience.

"We put little cutback cup blinkers on him (during training), and we think that may let him lay a little bit closer to the pace. I think he's responded well to it. I liked the way he's worked. He worked alone the other day, and he was much more focused, I thought. He's very genuine."

Mine That Bird has lost seven straight starts, including both this year. The gelding has career earnings of more than $2.2 million with five wins in 16 starts. He was 2009 Canadian champion two-year-old male.

Here is the full field for the Woodward in post position order: Convocation, Javier Castellano; Mine That Bird, Rajiv Maragh; Quality Road, John Velazquez; Arcodoro, David Cohen; Indian Dance, Kent Desormeaux; Tranquil Manner, Alan Garcia and Mythical Power, Martin Garcia.

The Woodward, won last year by Rachel Alexandra, has a post-time on Saturday of 5:50 p.m. (et).

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