04/09/2005 11:00PM

Rockport Harbor to go in Lexington

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Jeff Coady / Coady Photography
Rockport Harbor (inside) works seven furlongs in company with stablemate Pilfer in 1:25.60 under jockey Stewart Elliott at Oaklawn Park on Sunday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rockport Harbor worked seven furlongs Sunday morning at Oaklawn Park, and after the work trainer John Servis said the colt would make his next start in the Grade 2, $325,000 Coolmore Lexington at a mile and a sixteenth at Keeneland on April 23.

Rockport Harbor had been the early favorite for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on Saturday following his sharp second-place finish in last month's Grade 3, $250,000 Rebel. But a blood clot in the vein of his neck revealed itself April 2, and it cost Rockport Harbor four days of training for the mile and an eighth Arkansas Derby.

Sunday, he worked seven furlongs in company in 1:25.60, ridden by jockey Stewart Elliott.

"He's just not going to be ready for the Arkansas Derby," said Servis. "If the blood clot doesn't come, I think we'd have made the Arkansas Derby."

Sunday at 7:30 a.m., Rockport Harbor worked in company with the mare Pilfer, and he went into the drill at the seven furlong pole. Pilfer broke off in front, but was impeded by two horses galloping out on the rail, and instead of being able to set the pace as was the plan, she had to go around the horses and briefly found herself behind Rockport Harbor.

Pilfer rushed up to his outside soon afterward, however, and together the pair worked as a team with Rockport Harbor edging away in the late stages under urging from Elliott.

Rockport Harbor galloped out one-mile in 1:40.90. His fractional times were 11.99 seconds for the opening eighth, 23.56 for the opening quarter, 34.99 for three furlongs, 46.89 for the half-mile mark and 59.52 seconds for five furlongs. He finished the work at the wire, and covered his final quarter in 26.08 seconds, according to clockers at Oaklawn.

"The most important thing was I wanted him to get pushed along the last part of the work, because he'll get out there and get to lolly-gagging and he doesn't get enough out of it," said Servis. "It worked out good. He got out of the work what I wanted to get out of it. This work will move him up a lot."

Servis said he plans to ask Keeneland stewards permission to work Rockport Harbor out an additional eighth of a mile following the Lexington. If the colt runs the race Servis and owner Rick Porter expect he will, he will start in the Kentucky Derby.

"If he doesn't, we'll pack him up and take him home and get him ready for the Preakness, or whatever's next," said Servis.

Servis was working on flight arrangements to move Rockport Harbor into Keeneland. He expects to move the colt after the close of Oaklawn on Saturday, and if that is the case, Rockport Harbor could have one more work for the Lexington, at his current base of Oaklawn.

Rockport Harbor won all four of his races at 2, including the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct. He made his first start of the year in the Rebel, run on March 19 at Oaklawn.