04/09/2009 11:00PM

Working toward a shared goal


ELMONT, N.Y. - Twelve hundred miles and 150 minutes apart, Quality Road and Dunkirk, the two-top finishers from the Florida Derby, recorded workouts Friday morning in preparation for what their connections hope will be starts in the May 2 Kentucky Derby.

Quality Road, who came out of his 1 3/4-length victory in the Florida Derby with a quarter crack in his right hind hoof, worked four furlongs in 48 seconds over the Belmont Park training track, according to Daily Racing Form. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.85. Belmont clockers credited Quality Road with a five-furlong move in 1:02.19.

Dunkirk, who suffered his first defeat in three starts in the Florida Derby, worked four furlongs in 49.06 seconds at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.

Quality Road's workout was significant, as it was his first work since developing the quarter crack. On Monday, Quality Road had blood trickling from the crack after a routine gallop. On Wednesday, he had a new acrylic patch placed on the area, and he galloped Thursday before breezing Friday.

"Beautiful," was how exercise rider Juan Moreno described the move, which was done around 9:30 a.m. over a fast training track.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens moved up Quality Road's workout by a day to beat the potential of a wet racetrack on Saturday. After backing up to the three-eighths pole, Quality Road galloped alongside stable pony Gizmo to the three-sixteenths pole before leaving him.

Quality Road, head held high, looked smooth and steady as he came through the lane. Going into the work, Moreno, as per instructions from Jerkens, kept Quality Road two to three paths off the rail "just so [Quality Road] wouldn't think it was a real hard work," Jerkens said.

Quality Road went his first eighth in 12.61 seconds and then threw in a second eighth in 11.72 seconds, though Jerkens contends the spacing between the three-eighths pole and the quarter pole isn't a full eighth of a mile, which would result in a faster clocking.

Moreno kept his hands still as Quality Road turned into the stretch and, on his own, the colt got his final quarter in 23.67 seconds before galloping out from the wire to the seven-eighths pole in 13.95 seconds.

"He looked like he always did - clicking off 12's pretty easy, I thought,"Jerkens said.

Back at the barn, which is right across the street from the training track, Jerkens and equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay looked briefly at Quality Road's right hind foot and were happy with what they saw.

"Foot looks good, I didn't see any blood or anything," Jerkens said. "Who knows? Maybe we'll be all right. He should be okay from here on out."

McKinlay was so happy with what he saw that he plans to look at Quality Road only if Jerkens summons him.

"He's in good shape," McKinlay said. "It should be the end of me even having to look at him."

Jerkens expressed some relief in getting this workout in.

"You always like to have something in a horse this far since his last race and with a big race coming up - something to go by," Jerkens said. "You can't keep guessing. You're kidding yourself if you just keep saying he's all right. Everyone says well, he's got to be dead fit. Sure, he's dead fit, but still you want to keep seeing it before your eyes."

If Mother Nature cooperates, Quality Road would most likely work on April 18 and 25 before leaving for Churchill Downs on April 28.

Dunkirk works, connections wait

With regular exercise rider Patti Barry aboard and accompanied by her husband, Tristan Barry, on the pony, Dunkirk came out shortly after 7 a.m. and backed up to the seven-furlong pole at Palm Meadows. Once pointed in the proper direction, Dunkirk tracked the 3-year-old Checklist to the half-mile pole, where he broke off about a half-length behind his stablemate.

With Barry keeping a tight rein throughout, Dunkirk posted fractions of 12.76 seconds, and 24.88 before finishing up on even terms with Checklist, who was also well within himself at the wire. Dunkirk galloped out the better of the pair, getting five-eighths in 1:01.18 before continuing out strongly nearly the length of the backstretch.

"It was his standard work coming back off a race," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "He was against the bridle and finished great. In my eyes, he's training about as well as a horse can train."

Pletcher and the rest of Dunkirk's connections and supporters must play the waiting game to see if the Florida Derby runner-up will have enough graded earnings to get into the Derby field.- additional reporting by Mike Welsch