Quality Road is out of the Kentucky Derby

The 135th Kentucky Derby lost one of its premier colts early Monday morning when it was announced that Florida Derby winner Quality Road will not race Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Here’s the story from the Daily Racing Form’s Web site, drf.com:

By David Grening
ELMONT, N.Y. – Quality Road’s bid to make Saturday’s Kentucky Derby ended Monday morning when the colt’s right front foot was simply too sore to allow him to train.

Quality Road had developed a quarter crack on his right front foot last Thursday, but his connections were hopeful the horse could still make the Derby. However, Quality Road needed to get a workout in Monday morning, but instead was relegated to standing in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts in an attempt to get the soreness out of the foot.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens noted that the quarter crack on Quality Road’s right front foot was simply too sensitive when the horse walked the shed row Monday morning. On Sunday, Quality Road had some blood trickle out of the foot after galloping 1 3/4 miles over Belmont Park’s training track.

“It’s devastating,” Jerkens, 50, said about missing out on the chance to run Quality Road in the Derby. “I don’t know if you could ever get a horse for a race like the Derby with his credentials leading up to it.”

Quality Road won 3 of his 4 starts including the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. His victories impressed his jockey, John Velazquez, who was a visitor to Jerkens’ barn Monday morning.

“The things he’s done so quickly for a horse coming from three quarters to a mile to a mile and an eighth; what he did was impressive, very impressive,” said Velazquez, who picked up the mount on Mr. Hot Stuff for the Derby.

Ed Evans, the owner and breeder of Quality Road, had been to the barn three consecutive mornings hoping to get some good news. Instead, he must now think ahead to other races, which could include the Preakness on May 16 but more likely will feature other 3-year-old races later this summer.

“It’s very disappointing because everybody, everywhere was rooting for him, wanted him to get there,” Evans said. “We raise horses; we got to do what’s right for the horses. We’re used to being told by the horse what to do. We’ve got several hundred horses on the farm telling us what to do. We’re like the junior partner sometimes.”

Quality Road had been sending signals for a while that the Derby was not in his plans. He suffered a quarter crack on his right hind foot the day he won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, but that had not proven to be a hindrance to the colt. Last Thursday, after galloping three-quarters of a mile following a gate-schooling session, Jerkens noticed the crack on the colt’s right front foot.

The horse did not train Friday and just jogged on Saturday. Noted equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay put a patch and a drain on the foot on Sunday morning before the gallop. Though there was the trickle of blood, Quality Road did gallop sound.

After examining Quality Road Monday morning, McKinlay shaved off a quarter of the shoe “to take the pressure off the quarter.” The horse then stood in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts for 20 minutes.

“He’s tender in that heel, [it] never went away,” McKinlay said.

McKinlay said he would examine Quality Road again on Tuesday to see how the foot progressed overnight. If the soreness is gone, it is conceivable Quality Road could jog Tuesday and resume normal training on Wednesday.

“We’re just looking for that coronet band to calm down,” McKinlay said. “If he’s sound, he’ll go out and jog him and he’ll probably be perfectly sound by the weekend.”

We have our first possible Preakness horse

The Kentucky Derby is still five days away and yet we already have a colt that will likely run in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 16 — Mr. Fantasy, who won Saturday’s $150,000 Grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct by 1 3/4 lengths under Richard Migliore.

After the race, Migliore reportedly told the New York bred colt’s connections that he’d be a logical candidate for the Preakness, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. This Ones for Phil was second, 7 1/4 lengths ahead of Gone Astray.

As usual, Mr. Fantasy broke badly at the start but had enough talent to overcome the adversity. The son of E Dubai, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has won three of four lifetime. It was the colt’s first stakes victory and his first win against open company.

Watch for this guy in the coming weeks and months. He could be one of the nation’s top 3-year-olds come Travers Stakes time in August.

Zenyatta will return to the races Friday

Trainer John Shirreffs told the Daily Racing Form today that Zenyatta will make her 2009 debut in Friday’s $350,000 Louisville Distaff at Churchill Downs.

Zenyatta, champion older filly for 2008 who has won the first nine starts of her career, breezed five furlongs in 59 seconds Sunday morning at Hollywood Park. She’s scheduled to be flown to Louisville on Monday.

“She looks like she’s getting ready right now, and I didn’t want to particularly train her for a couple more weeks,” Shirreffs told the Racing Form.

Owner Jerry Moss told me last week Zenyatta would have returned in the Grade III Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park if track management had not canceled the race as part of its purse cuts. Moss and Shirreffs didn’t want to wait until the $150,000 Grade II Milady Handicap on May 23, thus the start in Kentucky. Moss would like to run the 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry at least once at Hollywood Park, and she could run in the $300,000 Grade I Vanity Handicap on June 27.

Zenyatta, who won her only previous start on dirt powerfully in last April’s Oaklawn Handicap, has not raced since winning the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic by 1 1/2 lengths on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.

A quartet to ponder at Hollywood Park

I think there might be four bettable races today at Hollypark:

4th — Bill Spawr has Thelma Rose, a 3-year-old daughter of Rio Verde, ready to roll. He claimed her for $25,000 on Feb. 21 at Santa Anita, raised her all the way up to $50,000 and put her on the grass in a two-turn race. She’d never gone two turns in nine previous races and she finished seventh, beaten six lengths. Today, she drops back into a sprint — where she’s 2 for 5 — at a level higher ($32,000) than where she was claimed. She switches back to Rafael Bejarano, who had ridden her in six prior races before the last. I like this gal a lot.

5th — Cape Truth drops from the Pasadena Stakes into an $80,000 claimer and regains the services of Garrett Gomez, who rode the 3-year-old Cape Town colt when he broke his maiden at Santa Anita two back. The fact he’s trained by Doug O’Neill obviously doesn’t hurt his cause.

6th — Union Soldier went postward at 25-1 in his bow at Santa Anita on Jan. 22 and finished fourth in an $80,000 maiden claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs on Pro-Ride. I like the fact trainer Ron Ellis saw enough in this guy to put him in a maiden special weight and switch him to the grass. He’s a contender in here.

7th — A winner of two of three lifetime, Lemon Supreme figures to stalk the pace and have plenty in the stretch for jockey Tyler Baze, who inherits the mount from Joel Rosario. The 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid filly is on the rise and I’ll single her in my pick six and late pick four.

Good luck today!!

This guy would be pretty handy around the barn

He’s a little bit shorter than Midnight Lute, and he doesn’t have the best eating habits, but this guy would be plenty handy to have around. Just think, you wouldn’t have the expense of transporting him to the track on race days because he could ride in the car with the owners and/or trainer. And you wouldn’t need a stable manager, because it looks like he handles answering the phone just fine.

Bejarano on a Gold Rush tear

Rafael Bejarano just won his fourth California Gold Rush race in six tries today, riding 9-1 shot Pretty Unusual to a come-from-behind victory in the $200,000 Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Bejarano has been on a tear the whole meet so far, winning 11 races as he tries for his record seventh consecutive SoCal riding title. He and Chris McCarron share the record of six consecutive since Hollywood Park began its autumn meet in 1981, giving Southern California five major race meets during the year. Bejarano, McCarron and Patrick Valenzuela are the only jockeys to sweep all five in one year.

As hot as Bejarano’s been, that’s as cold as Garrett Gomez is today. He’s ridden in five of the six races and finished off the board in all five. In fact, he’s finished fifth or lower with all of his mounts. Just shows that even the best riders have an off day now and then.

This Snow Chief entrant looks tough

I like Feisty Suances, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, in today’s $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes, the marquee event of Hollywood Park’s California Gold Rush card. The 3-year-old son of Suances has been running against the likes of Kentucky Derby contenders Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy and has been competitive. He’s trained by Darrell Vienna and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.

Feisty Suances has won three of seven lifetime with two seconds and has career earnings of $139,820 — second in the field to Triumphant Flight’s $206,543. Bejarano, off to a nice start with three wins in the first four Gold Rush races, will ride Triumphant Flight, a son of Chullo who is the 9-2 third choice in the wagering.

A look at the Snow Chief:
Feisty Suances — Wins if he runs back to San Felipe effort
He’s Really Big — Will benefit from fast pace
Unbridled Roman — Proven at the distance
J P Jammer — Upset special

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Gomez off to slow start

Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez, who flew to California today to ride eight horses on California Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park, has come up empty with his first three mounts — empty as in clear off the board.

Gomez has blanked with Golden Doc A in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes, Ruffled Feathers in the $60,000 Alphabet Kisses Stakes and heavily favored Bel Air Sizzle in the $150,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes.

Rafael Bejarano, meanwhile, has won two of the first three races. He won with Waveline in the B. Thoughtful and Bootleg Annie in the Fran’s Valentine. Woman Warrior, a first-time starter from the Bruce Headley barn, came from off the pace under Alex Solis to win the Alphabet Kisses at 6-1.

This could be a huge afternoon for Bejarano, who has mounts in all 10 Gold Rush races.

Quality Road’s Derby status in doubt

Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner who is one of the favorites for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, has developed another quarter crack. With the Derby only eight days away, his status for the Run for the Roses is tenuous at best.

Here’s the story from the Daily Racing Form’s Web site, drf.com:

By David Grening
ELMONT, N.Y. – After getting over a quarter crack on his right hind foot, Quality Road has developed a quarter crack on his right front foot that puts his status for the May 2 Kentucky Derby in doubt.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens canceled Saturday’s scheduled workout at Belmont Park and said Friday morning that if the horse could not breeze by Monday “then it looks like we won’t be able to go.”

Based on victories in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, Quality Road figured to be one of the Derby favorites.

Jerkens said he noticed the quarter crack Thursday morning as Quality Road was about to be get new shoes following his morning training session.

“We always pull him in the middle there to dry his legs off, look everything over and there it was,” Jerkens said. “It didn t have any blood or anything but it was there. We pulled him into shoe him; it wasn t something you could see too easy unless you got real to close to it.”

Quality Road had his wrapped in animalintex, which contains a mild antiseptic plus natural poultice agent designed to draw any heat or infection from the area. Jerkens said he did not think there was any infection. On Friday, Quality Road remained in the barn.

Ian McKinlay, the noted hoof equine specialist, saw the crack Thursday and was scheduled to examine Quality Road Friday afternoon. “This is a very low grade quarter crack,” McKinlay said Friday morning. “No infection, no nothing.”

Asked if Quality Road could still make the Derby, McKinlay said, “I wouldn’t know why not.”

Jerkens said if McKinlay were able to lace the crack Friday, the horse could gallop on Saturday. “If he comes back without any problems,” Jerkens said, “then he can patch it right away. He’ll have to determine if it’ll need another day of drying out or not.”

Jerkens said he would like to be able to gallop Quality Road on Saturday and work him on Sunday. “More realistically, I’m thinking it would be gallop him Sunday and work Monday.”

Quality Road is scheduled to leave for Kentucky on Tuesday.

Quality Road suffered a quarter crack on his right hind foot while winning the Florida Derby on March 28. The original patch that was put on by a farrier in south Florida did not hold, and Quality Road had some blood coming from that foot following a routine gallop on April 6. McKinlay put a new patch on the hind foot April 8 and the horse has twice worked without any incident.