LOUISVILLE — Trainer Todd Pletcher has never lacked for confidence when it comes to his Grade I-winning Quality Road.
On Sunday, Edward Evans' homebred colt completed his final work in preparation for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic, going 4 furlongs in :48.60 in company with stablemate Aikenite.
"I thought he worked as well as he's ever worked this morning," Pletcher said. "That is what we're accustomed to seeing: a really, really good breeze well in hand without being prompted at any point. He gives me every indication he's ready to run a big race."
With wins in the Grade I Donn Handicap, Met Mile and Woodward Stakes, Quality Road would almost certainly lock up Horse of the Year honors should he capture the $5 million Classic. The big knock on the son of Elusive Quality is that he's never won at the Classic's 11/4-mile distance. But Pletcher said writing off the 4-year-old colt would be a mistake.
"I don't think, if he wins on Saturday, there are going to be too many people surprised," said Pletcher, who is set to saddle 11 Breeders' Cup starters Friday and Saturday. "Until he (wins at 11/4 miles), I think it's a fair question but, to me, he gets 11/4 miles no problem."
Pletcher's loaded Breeders' Cup hand also includes Grade I Champagne Stakes winner Uncle Mo and his stablemate Stay Thirsty. The duo worked 4 furlongs together on Sunday in :50.60 as they get ready for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"It was a little slower than I wanted it to be, but it was the right kind of slow," Pletcher said. "They went each eighth faster than the previous one and, in particular, Uncle Mo galloped out really well."
Owned by Mike Repole, who also owns Stay Thirsty, Uncle Mo has dazzled in his two career starts, winning his maiden by 141/4 lengths prior to taking the Champagne by 43/4 on Oct. 9. The 11⁄16-mile Juvenile will be his first time around two turns, but Pletcher said stamina shouldn't be an issue for the son of Indian Charlie.
"He's got a tremendous stride to him and covers a lot of ground, which reminds me of the way (Wood Memorial winner) Eskendereya used his stride," Pletcher said of Uncle Mo. "This horse didn't start until late in August and is peaking at the right time for a race like the Breeders' Cup."
Espoir City works for Classic
Japanese invader Espoir City worked a half-mile after the renovation break in :49.60 with exercise rider Toshiyuki Abematsu in advance of the Breeders' Cup Classic.
What made the work unusual was that the 5-year-old horse worked from the wire to the half-mile pole.
"That is how they usually do it with him in Japan, and they wanted to keep him in his routine," said Mikki Tsuge, West Coast Representative for the Japan Racing Association. "Toshiyuki said the work went very well and he handled the track fine."
Sunday was a busy day at Churchill for horses putting in their final moves before the Breeders' Cup gets under way on Friday.
Other contenders included Grade I winner Acoma, working 4 furlongs in :50 in preparation for the Ladies' Classic; Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield, who also drilled a half mile in :50 in preparation for the $5 million Classic; and 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird, working 3 furlongs from the gate in :37.40 for the Dirt Mile.