02/20/2005 12:00AM

Rockport Harbor bruises foot

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - was found to have a bruise in his left front foot on Sunday morning, and is expected to miss at least two or three days of training, said his trainer, John Servis. The colt was scheduled to work one mile at his Oaklawn Park base on Sunday.

Despite the setback, Servis said Rockport Harbor remains on course to make his seasonal debut in the Grade 3, $250,000 Rebel Stakes on March 19. The undefeated colt is a top candidate for the Kentucky Derby.

Early on Sunday morning, Rockport Harbor's foot was soaked in Epsom salts, and by late morning, Servis was pleased with how the foot had progressed. It was to be soaked again later in the day on Sunday.

"He's putting good weight on it already," said Servis. "Just the improvement already, I'm very optimistic. I'm thinking it's going to be at least two or three days out, which isn't the worse thing in the world."

Servis said he suspected the bruise was "probably something [Rockport Harbor] did a while ago, and it's coming to a head."

Rockport Harbor last raced on Nov. 27, and won the Grade 2 Remsen. In the race he was stepped on by another rival and suffered a gash to his right hind foot, which has all but healed. Rockport Harbor, who has won all four of his races, is owned by Fox Hill Farms.

Servis won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year with Smarty Jones.