03/13/2005 12:00AM

Rockport day to day for Rebel

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rockport Harbor on Sunday was considered day to day for Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn by trainer John Servis because an old laceration to his right hind foot has flared up. Rockport Harbor sustained a gash to the foot when he was stepped on by another rival during the running of the Grade 2 Remsen, a race he won on Nov. 27.

Rockport Harbor on Saturday was found to have a foreign substance, possibly dirt, lodged in the site of the old laceration. The foreign substance was brought to a head by the application of a poultice, which is a drawing agent, and the foot has now begun to drain, which is a sign of progress. Servis said the best case scenario is that Rockport Harbor will return to the track on Tuesday. He walked the shedrow on Sunday.

"It's day to day right now," Servis said of making the Rebel. "We are planning on running."

Rockport Harbor suffered a half-inch deep gash to his right hind foot in the Remsen, and it extended two and a half inches, from the bottom of his pastern through the bulb of his foot.

"He has something in the foot from the injury of the Remsen that's probably been sitting in there trying to come out and it just came out," said Servis. "[The old gash] healed so well so fast, and sometimes when a wound heals that fast, that's bad. No matter how well you stay on top of it, how often you clean it, there's going to be little pieces of dirt that won't come out and [they] sit in there, and if [the wound] heals fast, it closes before all of that stuff gets a chance to push out.

"It's just like having a splinter in your hand. It starts to aggravate you when it comes to a head because the body just naturally wants to push it out."

Rockport Harbor had a strong gallop on Friday in his final prep for the Rebel, and increased circulation from the vigorous exercise might have caused the flare up. "He got that blood pumping, and probably brought [the foreign substance] closer to a head," said Servis. "It's better to happen now than happen on Saturday."

Servis said on Sunday he believed the foreign substance is now out of the foot, but planned to apply a poultice for one additional day. "I want to give it one more day of drawing, because I don't want to keep something in there and have it pop up a few days before the Arkansas Derby or the Kentucky Derby," said Servis.

Following the poultice, agents will be used to toughen and close up the drainage site. "We're doing everything we can do," said Servis.

The current flare-up is not related to the tenderness Rockport Harbor had experienced in his left front foot last month, a situation that was resolved quickly when a blacksmith pared out a small portion of the sole of his foot and reset his shoe.

Rockport Harbor is undefeated in four starts and races for Fox Hill Farm.