'Rocky Has Blood Clot; Nominated to Lexington Stakes

Edited from Oaklawn reports
Trainer John Servis made a phone call Monday morning, a phone call he didn't really want to make.

Servis called the Keeneland racing office to nominate Rockport Harbor to the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) scheduled for April 23 at the Lexington, Ky. track. That is one week after the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, Servis' primary goal for months.

"I need to have a Plan B in case Rocky can't make the (Arkansas) Derby," Servis was saying at the barn Monday morning. "The Arkansas Derby is the ideal race, but I won't know for a couple of days if he can make the race. They accept late nominations for the Lexington, I guess for horses who are scrambling. And that's us."

Rockport Harbor has been beset by one physical ailment after another since Nov. 3. The latest problem occurred over the weekend when a large blood clot was discovered on the right side of his neck.

"This is something I've never seen before," Servis said. "It's infected, but the good thing is there was no pus, and it's not forming an abscess. Otherwise we'd be done."

On Sunday, Rockport Harbor was treated for 90 minutes by Dr. Douglas Byars, a Lexington-based veterinarian.

"Dr. Byars gave Rocky a complete exam, said Servis, "...blood work, ultra sound of the neck and lungs. He checked him over from head to tail, and prescribed several medications, including penicillin, hot packs, vitamin E and probios."

The treatment has helped.

"Rocky is doing much better this morning," Servis said Monday. "The clot is dissolving, and, in time, he will make a complete recovery. But time is not on our side. That's for sure.

"We plan to take Rocky back to the track on Wednesday, and we'll go from there. Right now, I can't say with any certainty if he'll make the Derby or not. That's why I had to call Keeneland."

In view of Rocky's improvement in the last 24 hours, Servis remains confident that Rockport Harbor still will have the opportunity to give the Servis barn back-to-back Kentucky Derby winners.

"Smarty Jones gave us the ride of our lives," he said. "Now, we'll see what we're made of. But, whatever happens, how fortunate have we been to have the horse two years in a row? It's not Rocky's fault that a jock ran up on him (in the Remsen at Aqueduct...and it's not Rocky's fault he got a blood clot."

Meanwhile, Rick Porter, Rockport Harbor's owner, posted the following message Sunday on the "rockportharbor.com" web site:

"The Arkansas Derby is questionable at this point, but possible. If Rockport Harbor does not run at Oaklawn, John is shooting for the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland the following weekend. The Kentucky Derby is still a realistic goal. John and I will not sacrifice his career for the Derby. However, he is one of the best 3-year-olds in the world, and we want him to race not only as a 3-year-old but as a 4-year-old. I want to run in the Kentucky Derby, but his future is more important than any one race. Keep the faith. Rocky is one tough colt."

As a 2-year-old, Rockport Harbor went unbeaten in four starts. In his only start at three, he was a troubled second to Greater Good in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III) March 19.