05/01/2010 12:00AM

General Quarters holds on in Woodford

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Tom McCarthy celebrates the victory of General Quarters in the Woodford Reserve.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A year ago General Quarters and owner-trainer Tom McCarthy were among the favorite stories leading up the 2009 Kentucky Derby, with McCarthy becoming a media darling, as a former principal and schoolteacher from the Louisville area. Ultimately, there was little continuation of the story, with General Quarters running 10th in the Derby, followed by a ninth-place finish in the Preakness.

A year later on the 2010 Kentucky Derby undercard on Saturday, General Quarters regained the headlines for McCarthy, gamely winning the in the race preceding the Derby.

Making just his second start on turf, and his first since running eighth on the grass as a 2-year-old in 2008, General Quarters ran like an old pro on a rain-soaked Churchill Downs grass course labeled yielding. He comfortably stalked the pace in fourth, as longshot Wise River set modest splits of 25.13 and 50.91 seconds in the 1 1/8-mile grass race.

Despite his prominent early position, he didn't appear a winner until late, with the field bunching at the top of the stretch, and favored Court Vision surging to a lead over General Quarters with a furlong remaining.

But General Quarters, under jockey Rafael Bejarano, found something more in the closing stages, eking out a neck victory over Court Vision, racing 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.42. He paid $19.60.

Loup Breton, supplemented to the race at a cost of $25,000 finished third, a head behind runner-up Court Vision.

After the race, McCarthy credited the jockey of the runner-up, Robby Albarado, for praising the colt's Apr. 20 work over the Churchill Downs grass course, in which Albarado worked him five furlongs n 1:05 around the dogs.

But with Court Vision, a Grade 1 winner on the grass for whom Albarado was the regular rider also being pointed toward the Woodford, Albarado stuck with Court Vision in the race, and Bejarano gained the mount on General Quarters.

"You can't ride 'em all," Albarado said.

General Quarters, a 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa who McCarthy claimed from the colt's debut in a maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs for $20,000 in May of 2008, recorded his second Grade 1 Stakes victory in the Woodford, with his prior one being an upset victory in the Bluegrass over Keeneland's synthetic Polytrack surface last year.