04/01/2009 12:00AM

Quality Road arrives at Belmont base

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner, arrived Wednesday afternoon at Belmont Park, where he will do the bulk of his training for the May 2 Kentucky Derby, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said.

Immediately after the Florida Derby, Jerkens indicated that Quality Road would most likely stay at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida, where he flourished all winter. But Jerkens was planning to ship virtually all his other horses to New York and wanted to have everything in one place. After a lengthy discussion with owner Edward Evans, the decision was made to ship the colt to New York.

"It's hard to keep him down there with just a few horses; it's hard to neglect everything up here," Jerkens said from his Belmont Park barn, where Quality Road arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m. "We felt confident he could come up here and do just as well training-wise. We decided to have everything in one spot. It was hard to leave down there; it's a beautiful place and he was doing great. It should carry over to here."

Quality Road, who also won the Fountain of Youth during the Gulfstream meet, trained at Belmont last fall as a 2-year-old, working 12 times over the training track before winning his debut by 2 3/4 lengths over Aqueduct's main track last Nov. 29.

Jerkens said that Quality Road would most likely have two or three workouts at Belmont leading up to the Derby, and that the colt is "penciled in" to ship to Louisville by plane on April 28.

"At least he's good and fit now," Jerkens said. "It's pretty much kind of maintaining him for a while and just give him a nice work right before the race."

Jerkens said Quality Road galloped 1 1/4 miles at 7 a.m. Wednesday at Palm Meadows before leaving the barn at 9:45 to go to the airport.

"I just wanted to take a little of the edge off him," Jerkens said.

Carter: True Quality, Fabulous Strike go again

The budding rivalry between True Quality and Fabulous Strike will have its third installment Saturday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap at seven furlongs.

In December, Fabulous Strike defeated True Quality in the Grade 3 Gravesend Handicap over Aqueduct's inner track while giving the colt 11 pounds. In February, True Quality turned the tables on Fabulous Strike in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel Park when carrying 10 fewer pounds than Fabulous Strike.

In the Carter, Fabulous Strike will be the 123-pound highweight and spot five pounds to True Quality. As they did in the General George, True Quality will break from post 2 while Fabulous Strike leaves from post 3. Ramon Dominguez is back aboard Fabulous Strike after missing the General George to ride Old Fashioned in the Southwest at Oaklawn.

Unlike the two previous meetings, the Carter drew a much deeper field. Tale of Ekati, a two-time Grade 1 winner over the main track, is drawn nicely in post 7, while Kodiak Kowboy, a graded stakes winner at Belmont and Saratoga, should be closing from post 8 for trainer Larry Jones. Kodiak Kowboy will be coupled in the wagering with Biker Boy, who has won four in a row for trainer Nick Zito. Rick Porter has an ownership interest in both colts.

Rounding out the field will be Toboggan winner Ah Day, Driven by Success, and Understatement.

On Monday, King Leatherbury said he wasn't happy with the way Ah Day had trained on Saturday, so he blew him out again on Tuesday and the gelding went three furlongs in 35.40 seconds.

"He did go really nicely and the vets looked him over and said it's okay to run," Leatherbury said.

Bay Shore: Florida runners shorten up

The Triple Crown dreams of Capt. Candyman Can and Taqarub were dashed when both were soundly beaten by Quality Road in the Fountain of Youth. While Quality Road heads to the Kentucky Derby, Capt. Candyman Can and Taqarub will focus on sprint races, beginning with Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore Stakes at seven furlongs.

Capt. Candyman Can won the Hutcheson at seven furlongs in January, and on Tuesday he blew out a sharp half-mile in 47.40 seconds at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes. Capt. Candyman Can will break from post 4 under Javier Castellano.

Taqarub won his first three starts, all at six furlongs, including the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes over the inner track, before finishing ninth in the Fountain of Youth.

"We gave it a try, it didn't work out for us," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "We figured we'd go back to seven-eighths. He's come back and trained well."

Richard Migliore rides Taqarub from post 10. McLaughlin will also run Counter Move.

Others entered in the Bay Shore include Hatfield, Lyin' Heart, Rocketing Returns, Not for Silver, King Puma, Gato Go Win, and Yano.

Excelsior: Barrier Reef tries to shed label

Barrier Reef will try to shed his image as an inner-track specialist when he faces seven rivals in the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Barrier Reef is 5 for 11, with all five victories coming over the inner track. That includes stakes wins in the Evening Attire and Stymie in his last two starts. Barrier Reef will break from the rail under Ramon Dominguez.

Real Merchant and True Resurgence, second and third in the Stymie, are back to challenge Barrier Reef. Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out the uncoupled entry of Alaazo and Atoned, while trainer Nick Zito ships in Cool Coal Man from Florida. Kurbat and Giant Moon complete the field.