Dear Mr. Todd Pletcher,
First off, let me say what a fantastic race Quality Road ran in the Donn. I felt it was the right move for you and the connections of Quality Road to take a pass on the Cigar Mile, and let him completely get over his fear of the gate. In the Hal's Hope, I was very impressed with how professional the colt acted. I loved how good he was in the gate, how professionally he rated, and how he never was ever asked for his best. The job that you did with him, waiting patiently, schooling him in the gate, payed off, and I commend you for that.
In the Donn Quality Road looked every bit the part of a super horse. He stalked very solid fractions while sitting off of a tough sprinter in Past the Point. At the top of the stretch, when he took the lead, I knew it was over, I knew he was going to win for fun. However, he did more than just win for fun. He completely wowed me and countless others by drawing away at will, shattering the margin of victory record and eclipsing his own track record. He is a rising star Mr. Pletcher, which is why he needs to continue to race through the winter and the spring, instead of being put away for five months.
I can think of so many reasons as to why you and the connections of this talented colt would want to put him away until the Met Mile. I'm guessing that you want to take it slow with him, and not risk a reoccurrence of the quarter cracks that appeared last year. You also probably do not want to push him to quickly, in case he runs into some more mental issues, like he did with the gate. From what I saw on Saturday, though, this horse looks like a monster hungry for some more action. I am not proposing you race him four of five times before the Met Mile, that would be insane of me, but one or two preps, to keep him on his toes would probably do the trick.
If you were to choose the route of running in only one prep before the Met I would go with the Carter Handicap. It's seven furlongs, it's a grade one, and would sharpen and hone Quality Roads speed. Some big pluses are that it's on 4/3, so you would have plenty of rest before and after the race. The other plus is that it is in New York, so you wouldn't have to travel to much since, the Met Mile is hosted at Belmont.
If you chose to go the path of two preps I personally would choose to go with the Gulfstream Handicap as my first race. My main reasons why is because it's at Gulfsteam, so you could race out of the barn, and it's at the Met Mile distance. My second, despite the three week turn around would remain the Carter. It's still on the East coast, so it is not like you would have to go cross country with Quality Road in order to get there, and as I said earlier the shorter distance will sharpen his speed, giving him a solid prep before the Met Mile. Another plus, again is the nice break Quality Road would get before the Met Mile. The Carter would give Quality Road a nice two month rest, most likely balancing out the quick three week turn around.
Please do not read this and think that I am trying to tell you how to do you job, because that is far from what I am trying to do, which is just present you with some more options other than an extended freshening. Quality Road is a very talent horse, I believe with all my heart that he is even a great horse, but even a great horses need to be prepared, and from my point of view, it is incredibly hard to properly prepare a horse, no matter how great, for a race like the Met Mile off an extended series of works. Two, or even on race could make the difference for this colt, and I like you and millions of other, only want to see him succeed.
Thank you for listening,