04/25/2009 11:00PM

Quality Road tests hoof with jog


ELMONT, N.Y. - Though more stringent tests lay ahead, Quality Road gave his connections a reason to exhale somewhat Saturday as he jogged 1 3/4 miles at Belmont Park and showed no ill effects from a quarter crack he has on his right front foot. It was the first of three training sessions that will determine whether Quality Road will be able to make it to the starting gate for Saturday's 135th Kentucky Derby.

Quality Road was scheduled to gallop Sunday and then have a major workout Monday morning at Belmont Park. Provided Quality Road comes out of those two events without any issues, he will ship to Kentucky on Tuesday for the race.

After watching Quality Road train Saturday, trainer Jimmy Jerkens - a self-described pessimist by nature - said he was "pretty confident" Quality Road would make the Derby.

Quality Road, who had just gotten over having a quarter crack on his right hind foot, was diagnosed with this new quarter crack Thursday. After getting a day off Friday, Quality Road was sound enough to jog Saturday, something he did with energy as he attempted at times to break into a gallop under exercise rider Juan Moreno.

Jerkens stood next to owner Ed Evans and equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay as Quality Road went around the Belmont training track nearly two times. Back at the barn, McKinlay looked briefly at the foot and told Evans, "No blood; sound, you can't ask for more than that."

On Sunday morning, prior to Quality Road galloping, McKinlay was scheduled to put a fiberglass patch on the quarter crack and a little drain underneath the patch that would allow for any serum or blood to come out. If he handles the gallop okay, Quality Road will breeze Monday.

"If he comes out of the gallop sound, I would be really surprised if he was to work on it and have any problem," Jerkens said. "So [Sunday] is the big day as far as finding out where we're going."

Evans made a rare appearance at Belmont Park on Saturday morning and was glad he did.

"I'm glad to see the horse, he looks terrific," Evans said. "I was beginning to think all he was was a telephone call . . . when there's trouble they call. He looks great; he should be in the Derby."

Evans said Quality Road would only run in the Derby if it was determined the foot would not be an issue.

"If he goes, it'll be because we're certain there's no mechanical problem with his feet," Evans said. "This isn't a matter of percentages. His feet are either going to be okay and we go, or if not, we give him time."