04/07/2009 11:00PM

Quality Road gallops with new patch


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Quality Road enhanced his chances of making it to the Kentucky Derby by galloping 1 3/8 miles over Belmont Park's training track Wednesday morning after having a new patch applied to the quarter crack on his right hind foot.

It was just the third time Quality Road was able to gallop since he won the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28, a race from which Quality Road emerged with the quarter crack, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

After galloping Monday at Belmont, Quality Road had some blood trickling from the quarter crack. Ian McKinlay, the noted equine hoof specialist who worked on dual classic winner Big Brown last year, said Monday that there was still some heat in colt's foot. On Tuesday, Quality Road was simply ridden around the shed row.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, McKinlay examined the foot and said it was "ice cold." Happy with what he saw, McKinlay put a new patch on the quarter crack, and the horse was given the green light to train.

"We patched him, put a drain in so in case you have a little bit of blood," McKinlay said. "[The drain] starts at the hairline, comes down below the crack; it's just a precaution. I'm just happy it was cold."

Shortly after the second renovation break, Quality Road went out for his gallop.

"He was good, surging into the bridle, pushing off it good, but he did that too the day he bled out of the thing," Jerkens said. "He's not thinking about it at least; he's not feeling it. He didn't give us the impression he was trying to protect it."

McKinlay deduced that the original wires that were in put by another person in south Florida may have "loosened up," allowing for some expansion in the hoof wall that resulted in the bleeding.

Provided all continues to go well, Jerkens said that he hoped to breeze Quality Road on Friday or Saturday, depending on weather conditions.

"If we get that into him it'll be a little bit of breathing room, I think," Jerkens said. "You usually like to do something 10 days after he runs, even if it isn't a breeze, some kind of strong gallop. I think this is only the third gallop he's had since he ran."

In addition to getting a new patch, Quality Road's right hind foot was equipped with a regular shoe, replacing the bar shoe he had been wearing while there was no patch on the foot.

Laragh makes 3-year-old debut in Comely

Laragh, who ended her 2-year-old season with a Grade 1 victory in the Hollywood Starlet, kicks off her 3-year-old campaign in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Comely Stakes here at one mile.

A solid effort in the Comely could earn Laragh a shot alongside her more heralded stablemate Stardom Bound in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 1.

"I am looking to run them both," said Michael Iavarone, co-president of IEAH Stables, which owns majority interest in both fillies. "I don't see them getting in each other's way."

While Stardom Bound has already raced three times this year, Laragh is just getting started. Trainer John Terranova had considered pointing Laragh to the Santa Anita Oaks, but with Stardom Bound headed for that race, Terranova had the benefit of giving the filly additional time.

After training Laragh lightly in February, Terranova really got serious with the filly's training at Palm Meadows in March before shipping her back to New York last week. On Sunday, Laragh worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.20 over the Belmont main track.

"She gets so much out of her gallops that we weren't looking to do a lot with her each time," Terranova said. "She just brought it along nice and steady. She's solid; she looks great."

The Comely will be Laragh's first start on dirt after making her first six starts on turf or synthetic surfaces.

"If I'm going based on the way she's trained over it, there's no worries at all," Terranova said.

Laragh will break from post 4 under Ramon Dominguez. Her five rivals include Florida Oaks winner Don't Forget Gil, Dearly Precious winner Dream Play, Platinum Girl, and Holdontoyourdream.

DePass leaves Velasquez, picks up Maragh

In a game of musical jockey agents that may only be just beginning, agent Richie DePass split from jockey Cornelio Velasquez on Wednesday and has picked up Rajiv Maragh, who fired Roger Sutton.

Velasquez said he was surprised by DePass's move, and had yet to retain an agent.

DePass said he picked up Velasquez at Gulfstream Park in 2003 and "we had a great run," he said. "We both wish each other the best, he's a great rider."

Maragh was represented by Sutton for 18 months. In 2008, Maragh was the second leading rider in wins on this circuit with 203.

"It wasn't that Roger wasn't doing a good job," Maragh said. "I had my best year with Roger; I made great strides forward in my career. But I think it's a great opportunity to get one of the elite agents around, and it's hard to turn that chance down."

Turf feature could be a race against rain

With showers forecast for later in the day, Friday's feature will be the opener, a $46,000 first-level allowance race scheduled for a mile on the turf. Stormy Relations, who came off a six-month layoff to win a New York-bred maiden race here last April 9, will attempt a successful return off an eight-month freshening in this spot.

McVictory and Tempest Storm are other contenders on the turf.

If the race is moved to the dirt, Persistently, runner-up in the Grade 1 Frizette last Oct. 4, becomes the one to beat.

* Dry Martini, winner of the Grade 3 Stuyvesant here last fall, worked four furlongs in 47.09 seconds Tuesday at Belmont. He is being pointed to the Charles Town Classic on April 18. As a Grade 2 winner - he won the Cornhusker last year - Dry Martini would be eligible to run for a $750,000 purse.