03/18/2010 11:00PM

General Quarters on track for stakes


NEW ORLEANS - General Quarters is back on track to run in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap next Saturday after missing three days of training with a swollen ankle.

General Quarters had been preparing for his third stakes race of the Fair Grounds season and had been scheduled to work last Wednesday, but he injured himself while coming off the track Sunday.

"He kicked his left front ankle," owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said. "He comes off the racetrack awful tough, and if you don't get him right away he goes to dancing, and he kicked himself."

McCarthy was cautious and gave General Quarters time off to make sure the injury didn't become worse.

"It was nothing really, more of a cautionary thing," McCarthy said. "The swelling went down after a day, and then I let him have a couple of more days off."

With the injury behind him, McCarthy revised General Quarters's training schedule and planned on galloping him for a few days before giving him a workout Sunday.

"It put our schedule off," McCarthy said. "Now, he'll breeze Sunday. I didn't want it so close to a race, but what can you do?"

The New Orleans Handicap is expected to also attract Friesan Fire, who has faced General Quarters twice this meet.

In the Louisiana Handicap on Jan. 23, Friesan Fire got clear early and won by 1 3/4 lengths. In their rematch, the Mineshaft on Feb. 20, McCarthy sent General Quarters to tackle Friesan Fire early. The tactic wore Friesan Fire down, but General Quarters was unable to take advantage, finishing second to the late-charging Stonehouse, who also is scheduled to return in the New Orleans Handicap.

Margolis looks to end meet strong

Steve Margolis spent Friday morning looking forward to putting the exclamation point on a successful Fair Grounds season as he prepared four of his horses for stakes races next week, the final one of the meet.

Cash Refund, the early favorite for the Duncan Kenner, a $125,000 sprint stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:00.20, with his regular jockey Brian Hernandez aboard.

"He worked really great with Brian this morning," Margolis said. "The horse has been very good over the track."

Cash Refund is likely to meet a small but accomplished field in the Kenner, including Euroears and the Dale Romans-trained Hull.

Margolis's other entry for Saturday is longshot Stay Put in the Louisiana Derby. Stay Put also put in his final work Friday morning, going five furlongs in the same time as Cash Refund, 1:00.20, with jockey Jamie Theriot in the irons.

"Jamie likes how the horse is coming in," Margolis said. "All systems are go with him."

Stay Put finished fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star, the prep race for the Louisiana Derby. It was an even effort, and he had a wide trip while trying to close into a slow pace.

On Friday, Margolis will send Visavis in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Northern Belle in the Bienville.

"It's been great year, in a great city," Margolis said. "We'll definitely be back next year."

Rachel Alexandra gallops

For Rachel Alexandra, Friday morning meant another gallop around the Fair Grounds track as she resumes training for a yet-to-be-determined next start.

"She went well," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "She looked beautiful."

Plans had called for 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra to be in training at Oaklawn for a showdown against Zenyatta there in the April 9 Apple Blossom. But her defeat at the hands of Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies on Saturday led to Asmussen and owner Jess Jackson deciding to run Rachel elsewhere.

When asked if there were plans for her to intensify her training schedule, Asmussen was noncommittal.

"We're just galloping with her right now," Asmussen said.