Along with 153,563 fans at Churchill Downs and millions of television viewers, trainer Jimmy Jerkens was as confounded as everyone else when 50-1 shot Mine That Bird walloped 18 rivals in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
“It was … weird,” said Jerkens, whose Quality Road would likely have been the favorite in the Run for the Roses had he not been sidelined by a quarter crack in his right front foot. “I can’t imagine Quality Road would back up like the rest of them did. But I’m sure Larry Jones (Friesan Fire) and Todd Pletcher (Dunkirk) couldn’t imagine their horses wouldn’t pick up their feet, either. I can’t understand so many horses backing up like that.
“That horse who won is no slouch, don’t get me wrong,” he added. “I saw him in California when I was there for the Breeders’ Cup with Zaftig. They sent him to (trainer Richard) Mandella and I remember him being really small.”
With Quality Road having returned to the track on May 3, galloping an eager 1 1/4 miles under exercise rider Juan Moreno, Jerkens said the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on June 6 remained a possibility for the Elusive Quality colt, who is owned by Edward P. Evans.
“Everything will have to go perfectly,” he said.
Quality Road, who won the BlackBerry Presents the 58th Running of the Florida Derby (gr. I) in track record time (1:47.72), developed a quarter crack on the inside of his right front hoof on April 23. Although treated and covered with a supportive acrylic patch, the crack did not respond quickly enough and Jerkens pulled him from Derby consideration on April 25.