05/05/2010 12:00AM

General Quarters will target Arlington Million


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - General Quarters likely will be pointed to the Aug. 21 Arlington Million after making a sensational impression on grass, according to owner-trainer Tom McCarthy.

General Quarters outran Court Vision in a thrilling stretch drive to capture the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, the race that directly preceded the Kentucky Derby last Saturday at Churchill Downs and showcased the 4-year-old colt's grit and versatility.

"What a thrill that was," McCarthy said while preparing General Quarters for a walk around the Barn 37 shed row early Wednesday. "I really liked the ride, too."

Rafael Bejarano, who rose to stardom on the Kentucky circuit before moving to Southern California several years ago, gave General Quarters a perfect ride, coaxing him to rate kindly off the pace and staying clear of trouble before being engaged from the outside by Court Vision. Briefly passed in midstretch, General Quarters dug in to prevail by a neck and gave 76-year-old McCarthy and his family, all of them from Louisville, one of their happiest moments in racing.

General Quarters won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes last spring before running 10th in the Derby and ninth in the Preakness. After undergoing knee surgery, General Quarters returned with four straight runner-up finishes at Fair Grounds this past winter. McCarthy thought long and hard about what was next before finally settling on trying the grass for the second time by running him in the $553,100 Woodford.

"He came out of the race great," said McCarthy, the retired high school principal whose underdog tale endeared him to an untold number of racing fans during the Triple Crown chase last year. "He won't go back to the track until Friday, and I'm just going to take it easy with him for a while. I'm going to think about that race at Arlington on July 17," the Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington Handicap, "and we'll kind of work our way toward that. In the meantime, we're going to enjoy this last one. It was something else to win like that on Derby Day."