01/26/2005 12:00AM

Rockport Harbor gets back to work

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Undefeated 3-year-old Rockport Harbor had his first workout of the year Wednesday under Bobby Velez.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rockport Harbor, a leading candidate for the Kentucky Derby, had his first workout since his Nov. 27 victory in the Grade 2 Remsen on Wednesday morning at Oaklawn Park.

He traveled four furlongs in 49.40 seconds under regular exercise rider Bobby Velez, an assistant to the colt's trainer, John Servis.

"It was just our first work, really to just see where he's at," said Servis, who was not present for the work but is scheduled to arrive in Hot Springs on Friday. "I'm very happy. He galloped out real good, cooled out really good, and is right on schedule."

Servis said Rockport Harbor, who is undefeated in four starts, could make his 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at one mile at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 19. If not, his season will start in the Grade 3, $250,000 Rebel, also at Oaklawn, on March 19.

"We're not ruling out the Southwest if we can make it," said Servis.

Last year Servis swept Oaklawn's 3-year-old stakes with Smarty Jones, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Rockport Harbor worked after the renovation break. Several minutes before he began his drill there was a loose horse on the track, but it did not affect him. Rockport Harbor warmed up with a pony and was released from the pony approaching the half-mile pole, where his work began.

Rockport Harbor worked alone willingly, and through the stretch he strided out impressively.

"He was reaching today," said Velez. "By the eighth pole, I had to take a little hold because he wanted to do [more]."

Clockers followed Rockport Harbor past the wire to the seven-eighths pole, and credited him with a five-furlong work in 1:02. According to track officials, his splits were 13.20 seconds for the opening eighth-mile; 25.40 for the opening quarter; 38 for three furlongs; and a six-furlong gallop out in 1:16.80.

The bullet for four furlongs on Wednesday was 48 seconds, and for five furlongs, 1:00.80.

The work was the first time that pressure was put on Rockport Harbor's right hind foot, which was gashed in the Remsen. His push-off power appeared not to be hindered, and from a mental standpoint, the foot was a nonissue for the colt as well.

"I didn't notice any change from when I used to work him before," said Velez.

Temperatures were 60 degrees on Wednesday, but were expected to drop starting Thursday.

Greater Good also works

Another top 3-year-old working on Wednesday was Greater Good, who went four furlongs in 50.20 seconds for trainer Bob Holthus. In his last start, Greater Good won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Razor points for Mountain Valley

Trainer Steve Asmussen has made next-race plans for his horses who swept the opening-weekend stakes at Oaklawn. Razor, who won the $50,000 Dixieland for 3-year-olds last Friday, will remain sprinting.

"He'll show up in the Mountain Valley," said Asmussen.

The $50,000 Mountain Valley was moved to March 5 this year to give

3-year-old sprinters a stakes option later in the meet, said Pat Pope, racing secretary at Oaklawn.

Souris, who won the $50,000 American Beauty on Saturday, will make her next start at Fair Grounds. Asmussen said she is being pointed for the $60,000 Pan Zareta on Feb. 5.

Souris was one of four stakes winners Asmussen saddled nationwide Saturday. He also won the Grade 3 The First Lady with Savorthetime at Gulfstream, and two stakes at Sam Houston. Overall, Asmussen had eight winners from 17 starters last Saturday.

Another of Asmussen's winners Saturday was El Batallon, who won an allowance for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn. Asmussen said the colt would be nominated to the Southwest.

"We'll see how it goes, see how he works," Asmussen said.

* A pair of stakes-winning 3-year-olds might use Friday's eighth race as a springboard to the Southwest. Major League, who won the $75,000 Harrah's Juvenile last September, and My Parade, winner of the $75,000 Lafayette, will meet in the 1 1/16-mile allowance worth $33,500.