Rockport Harbor, with trainer John Servis, in the barn at Oaklawn.

Rockport Harbor, with trainer John Servis, in the barn at Oaklawn.

Jeff Coady

Rockport Harbor Suffers Another Setback; May Miss Rebel

Rockport Harbor's rocky road to Louisville continued Saturday when trainer John Servis announced that the undefeated colt has re-aggravated the foot bruise he suffered on Feb. 20. Although he still is on schedule for the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III), Servis won't know for sure until Sunday morning.

Servis noticed Saturday the colt was favoring his right hind foot, the same foot he bruised earlier. "Right now I don't consider this a big deal," Servis said. "It's like an ingrown toenail in human terms. But when I come in Sunday morning, and there's no improvement, then I'll be upset. At this point, though, I'm still confident that Rocky will make the Rebel."

If the son of Unbridled's Song is forced to miss the Rebel, it would all but knock him out of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture.

Rockport Harbor's setback comes one day after Derby favorite Declan's Moon was sidelined with a chip fracture in his knee. Servis, after hearing about the injury, said, "It's a crushing blow. I feel so bad for Ron (trainer Ron Ellis). Anytime a trainer gets to this point and this happens, it's devastating. To come so far..."

Rockport Harbor has not had much go his way since his victory in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), in which he received a severe gash when struck from behind by another horse. He was unable to make his scheduled debut in the Southwest Stakes, then suffered a foot bruise the day after the Southwest, which only caused him to miss several days of training, prompting his owner, Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm, to say, "We dodged a bullet."

His two subsequent workouts, however, did not go according to plan, as the colt was rank and went too fast early and did not close as well as Servis had hoped.

"It's amazing," said Servis. "Last year, everything went right with Smarty Jones. This year, nothing seems to be going right with this colt. We're not sure how this happened. Rocky may have aggravated the injury in his work (Friday). We applied a poultice pad called animalintex, and we are hoping for the best. As I said, we'll know a lot more tomorrow (Sunday)."

Rockport Harbor has won all four of career starts, also capturing the Nashua Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct prior to the Remsen.