Rebel Start On Hold for Rockport Harbor

Rebel Start On Hold for Rockport Harbor
Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Rockport Harbor (red cap) sidelined with bruised foot.
(from Oaklawn Park release)
Rockport Harbor, unbeaten in four starts and the future book favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), is being treated for a bruised left front foot, leaving his planned start in the $250,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) March 19 on hold.

The star 3-year-old was scheduled to work a mile Sunday morning over his home grounds at Oaklawn, but the work was canceled when trainer John Servis discovered the bruise.

"Bobby (exercise rider Bobby Velez) called me at home early this morning, and told me it wasn't good," Servis said. "I got to the barn, called in the blacksmith, and he yanked the colt's shoes off, and found the bruise.

"We are treating the bruise with Epsom salts and hot water, and a black tar-like salve called icthamol. It's too early to tell how much time Rocky will miss, but obviously time isn't on our side. We wanted Rocky at 110 per cent for the Rebel. The best scenario is that he gets back to the racetrack by the end of the week."

Rockport Harbor is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut against Afleet Alex and Southwest winner Greater Good in the Rebel.

"I'm not going to rule out the Rebel, but everything has to go right, and right now it's too early to say," Servis said. "We'll know more in a day or two."

Servis last year won the Rebel and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) with Smarty Jones, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby – earning a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn owner Charles J. Cella – and Preakness (gr. I) before being denied the Triple Crown by Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Smarty Jones retired last summer and was voted 3-year-old champion.

Servis is following a similar Arkansas path to the Triple Crown with Rockport Harbor, a $470,000 Unbridled's Song colt owned by automobile dealer Rick Porter.

At 2, Rockport Harbor won his first two starts at Philadelphia Park, just as Smarty Jones did, and then won the Nashua and Remsen back-to-back at Aqueduct to conclude his campaign 4-for-4.

"Foot bruises happen all the time," Servis said. "You treat them, and go on. But with a horse like Rockport Harbor, you don't take chances.

"As I said, we'll know a lot more in a day or two."

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