It was a scary Sunday March 14 for owner/trainer Tom McCarthy, but by the morning of March 19 the alarm bells for General Quarters fell silent once again.
On March 14, McCarthy was leading his one-horse stable consisting of last year’s Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner General Quarters off the Fair Grounds track after a routine gallop, and his handsome gray colt was feeling so good he accidentally rapped himself on his left front with his right hind--an unfortunate occurrence that led to almost immediate dramatic swelling just above the fetlock. Fortunately, the tendon in that area was not in the line of fire.
McCarthy, a longtime horseman and longtime Louisville, resident packed one of his old-school compounds to the affected area immediately and by the morning of March 15 things looked a lot better for General Quarters’ participation in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds March 27.
“I couldn’t believe how much the swelling had gone down when I walked in his stall Monday morning,” said McCarthy in a Fair Grounds release. “It was almost completely gone, so I that’s the way I’ve continued to treat it. Before that happened, I would have galloped him on Monday and Tuesday and worked him five-eighths Wednesday, but obviously we’ve missed taking him to the track for a few days.
“He went fine when he went to the track this morning (March 19),” said McCarthy, “and I’ll take him to the track again (March 20). If all goes well, we’ll breeze him on Sunday but we’ll have to make it a half-mile instead of five-eighths. It’s not quite the schedule I wanted but it’s as close as I can make it.
“However, I’ve been around this game long enough to know that sometimes these things work out for the best,” McCarthy said. “Maybe this slight change of plans is just what he (General Quarters) needs to be at his best in the big race next week. He certainly seems to be feeling like he’s at the top of his game right now. Maybe those couple of days not going to the track was just what he needed.
“One other thing I can tell you,” concluded McCarthy, as he stepped back to admire his charge while stroking the colt’s withers. “This is by far the best looking horse I’ve ever had.”
Following General Quarters’ win in the 2009 Blue Grass, he suffered a nightmarish trip when far back in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), was operated on for a chip after another dull performance in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and was unraced for six months before returning to run second by a half-length in his first start back at Fair Grounds Dec. 26.
General Quarters came back to run second behind last year’s Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Handicap Jan. 23, and was second by a neck to long shot Stonehouse in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 20 as the final designed local prep for the New Orleans Handicap.
General Quarters is assigned the second high weight at 120 pounds for the New Orleans Handicap in the list of weights published March 19.