02/22/2005 12:00AM

Rockport Harbor back to the track for a jog


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rockport Harbor went back to the track on Tuesday after missing two days of training with a tender foot, and he remains on pace to make his seasonal debut in the Grade 3, $250,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 19.

"He just jogged and he was perfect," said John Servis, the trainer of Rockport Harbor. Servis went on to say that he was "tickled to death" with the progress Rockport Harbor had made since Sunday.

The return to the track came at least two days earlier than Servis had speculated on Monday.

was found on Sunday morning to have soreness in his left front foot, forcing the cancellation of a scheduled one-mile workout. The tenderness appears to have been caused by a recent adjustment of the colt's shoeing. Monday, a blacksmith cut out a portion of the sole of Rockport Harbor's foot.

"When he cut it out, it relieved some of that pressure," said Servis. "When we put the shoe back on, cutting that out kept the shoe from pinching the sole."

Rockport Harbor, under assistant trainer and regular exercise rider Bobby Velez, came onto the track at 9:10 a.m. Central, shortly after the renovation break. Servis accompanied the pair on a pony, and Rockport Harbor stood for a while and took in the sights on the track. He proceeded to jog once around the track the wrong way, and even broke into a gallop for a brief spell. He bounced off the track after the exercise, appearing in high spirits.

Rockport Harbor, a top candidate for the Kentucky Derby, has won all four of his races, including two stakes at Aqueduct, the Grade 2 Remsen in his last start Nov. 27 and the Grade 3 Nashua. He races for Fox Hill Farms.

Servis won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year with Smarty Jones, who, like Rockport Harbor, wintered at Oaklawn.