04/10/2009 12:00AM

Quality Road, Dunkirk get back to work


Kentucky Derby hopefuls Quality Road and Dunkirk both completed their first workouts since the Florida Derby on Friday. Quality Road worked a half-mile in 48 seconds at Belmont Park, while Dunkirk went the same distance in 49.06 at the Palm Meadows training center.

Quality Road put himself back on schedule for the May 2 Kentucky Derby with a solid workout. Quality Road galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.95, according to Daily Racing Form, and was credited by Belmont clockers with a five-furlong move in 1:02.19.

"Beautiful," was the word exercise rider Juan Moreno used to describe the move, which was done about 9:30 a.m. over a fast training track. It was Quality Road's first workout since he won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28, a race from which he emerged with a quarter crack in his right hind hoof.

Earlier in the week, Quality Road was equipped with a new patch after blood trickled from the area following a gallop Monday.

Jerkens moved up this workout by a day to beat the rain that was forecast for Friday afternoon into Saturday. After backing up to the three-eighths pole, Quality Road galloped alongside stable pony Gizmo to the three-sixteenths pole before leaving him.

Quality Road looked smooth and steady as he came through the lane. Going into the work, Moreno, as per instructions from Jerkens, kept Quality Road two to three paths off the rail "just so he wouldn't think it was a real hard work," Jerkens said.

Quality Road went his first eighth in 12.61 seconds and then threw in a second eighth in 11.72 seconds, though Jerkens contends the spacing between the three-eighths pole and the quarter pole isn't a full eighth of a mile.

Moreno kept his hands still as Quality Road turned into the stretch and, on his own, the colt got his final quarter in 23.67 seconds before galloping out from the wire to the seven-eighths pole in 13.95 seconds.

"He looked like he always did; clicking off 12s pretty easy I thought," Jerkens said.

Back at the barn, which is right across the street from the training track, Jerkens and equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay looked briefly at Quality Road's right hind foot and were happy with what they saw.

"Foot looks good, I didn't see any blood or anything," Jerkens said. "Who knows? Maybe we'll be alright. He should be okay from here on out. They can resurface, the patch loosens up, dirt and bacteria get back in there. But it's good and secure. Ian just has to stay on top of it, that's all."

McKinlay was so happy with what he saw that he only plans to look at Quality Road if Jerkens summons him.

"He's in good shape," McKinlay said. "It should be the end of me even having to look at him."

Jerkens expressed some relief in getting this workout in.

"You always like to have something in a horse this far since his last race and with a big race coming up - something to go by," Jerkens said. "You can't keep guessing. You're kidding yourself if you just keep saying he's alright. Everyone says well, he's got to be dead fit. Sure, he's dead fit, but still you want to keep seeing it before your eyes. He shouldn't need a whole lot. He's big, he's tall, but he doesn't carry a whole lot of flesh."

If Mother Nature cooperates, Quality Road would most likely work the next two on April 18 and 25 before leaving for Churchill Downs on April 28.

Dunkirk, who remains on the bubble regarding his starting status for this year's Kentucky Derby, worked four furlongs in 49.06 at the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach, Fla., on Friday.

Breaking off about a half-length behind stablemate Checklist, Dunkirk posted splits of 12.66 and 24.88 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.18 while under a tight hold throughout. The work was Dunkirk's first since his second-place finish behind Quality Road in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28.

"We'll know a lot more where we stand regarding the Derby by the end of tomorrow," said trainer Todd Pletcher referring to Saturday's important Derby preps, the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby. "Right now we're training him as if we're going to run in the Derby."