03/11/2005 1:00AM

Rockport Harbor ready for Rebel


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rockport Harbor is ready to rumble. In what was likely his final major prep for the Grade 3, $250,000 Rebel Stakes, he had a strong gallop at Oaklawn on Friday morning and was credited with a five-furlong breeze in 1:02.98.

The undefeated Rockport Harbor has been training well for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, which will be run next Saturday, and he looked great Friday when he came onto the track a few minutes before 7 a.m. Central. He was accompanied by a pony ridden by his trainer, John Servis.

Rockport Harbor stood and took in the sights for a while, then backtracked to about the eighth pole under assistant trainer Bobby Velez. He began a serious gallop at the five-furlong pole, and traveled through fractions of 12.55 seconds for the opening eighth of a mile, 25.04 for the opening quarter, 38.18 for three furlongs, and 50.74 for a half-mile. Rockport Harbor continued through six furlongs in 1:15.90, seven furlongs in 1:29.44, and finished his exercise at the five-furlong pole with a one-mile time of 1:43.67.

"What I got from him today was absolutely perfect," said Servis. "It's exactly what I was looking for. It was just a real good, strong gallop. We let him stretch his legs and he's a happy boy."

Servis said he used the same training approach when Rockport Harbor was getting ready for the Grade 2 Remsen in November. The objective Friday, he said, was for Rockport Harbor to go a little stronger than a two-minute mile, his eighths averaging about 13 seconds and change. A typical two-minute clip calls for 15-second eighths.

"He'll walk around there in two minutes, this horse," said Servis. "All horses are different. I'll send a horse out to two-minute lick, and I'll tell the [rider] to go 1:55, 1:50, because I want him to do more than a two-minute lick, but I want him to be comfortable.

"With this horse, if I tell [the rider] to go out there and do 1:55, 1:50, he's not going to get anything out of that. I wanted him to stretch his legs and get something out of it, and at the same token, get him relaxing and get him comfortable. It was perfect. I'm tickled to death with the way he went today."

Rockport Harbor's credited time for five furlongs ranked 10th among 24 times at the distance Friday.

"He galloped faster than many horses worked today," said Jim Hamilton, state clocker at Oaklawn.

Servis said Rockport Harbor likely will not have any more major preparations for the Rebel.

"I'll let him tell me," he said. "If he's wanting to do something, we might let him stretch his legs a little bit more."

Stewart Elliott has the mount on Rockport Harbor, who is expected to face Afleet Alex and Greater Good in the Rebel.

Jones picking spot for Miss Elsie

Trainer Larry Jones is sorting through his options for Miss Elsie, who improved her career record to 4 for 5 with an impressive win in an allowance at Oaklawn on March 2. She could start in the $50,000 Carousel on April 2 at Oaklawn, where she is a perfect 4 for 4, or the Grade 3, $200,000 Vinery Madison at Keeneland on April 13.

Jones is also is considering Grade 2 winner Josh's Madelyn for the Carousel or the Vinery.

"We'll try to keep them away from each other," said Jones.

Jones has a deep group of fillies and mares, led by Grade 1 winner Island Sand, who lives right next door to Miss Elsie. Miss Elsie is a 4-year-old daughter of Golden Gear.

Jones has another up-and-coming filly in Swede, a 3-year-old daughter of Yankee Victor who won an allowance on Feb. 16. She is a candidate for $50,000 Goldfinch at Prairie Meadows on April 22.

Two turns for Creeker's Surprise

Creeker's Surprise, who won her only two-turn start, will return to routing Sunday in the seventh race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance on the undercard of the Grade 3, $125,000 Razorback Handicap. Creeker's Surprise won a six-furlong allowance in her last start and should be sharp for the move to two turns Sunday.

"She ran long once, and it was here last year when she broke her maiden," said Jerry Calvin, who trains Creeker's Surprise. "I've always thought that she wanted to run long."

Creeker's Surprise is a daughter of Victory Gallop and the mare Miss Creeker. Creeker's Surprise is a half-sister to three stakes winners, including Canyon Run, a winner of $271,455.

"I've always thought that somewhere down the line she would be stakes quality," Calvin said.

Calvin Borel has the mount on Creeker's Surprise.