Rockport Harbor sustained a severe gash in his right hind leg in this Remsen Stakes victory.

Rockport Harbor sustained a severe gash in his right hind leg in this Remsen Stakes victory.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Severe Gash May Delay Rockport's Derby Preparation

Fox Hill Farms' Rockport Harbor, who scored a gutsy victory over Galloping Grocer in the Nov. 27 Remsen Stakes (gr. II), came out of the 1 1/8-mile race with a severe gash on his right hind leg that was described by trainer John Servis as "pretty nasty."

"It's going to take a while," Servis said the morning after the race. "We're going to start him on antibiotics today, and we're going to have to trim some of that meat away in a few days. It's got a big old flap on it, and the gash is a good 2 1/2 inches deep. I don't think it's career threatening, but it's going to take a long time. We could send him to the New Jersey Equine Clinic, but we'll play it by ear. I think we can handle it here.

"He was going to get some time off anyway. He's already answered a lot of questions. I told Rick (owner Porter) that the original plan was to point for the Southwest Stakes, but I'm not going to plan for anything until he tells me he's ready to go on."

Sevis believes the injury occurred when longshot Pavo ran up on Rockport Harbor's heels going into the first turn.

With Rockport Harbor having won stakes at a mile and 1 1/8 miles and building a solid, early foundation, Servis can afford to lose some time if he has to. If the son of Unbridled's Song doesn't make the Feb. 19 Southwest, he'll wait for the Rebel Stakes on March 19, which would serve as a prep for the Arkansas Derby (gr. II).

"Last year, from the time we got on the Triple Crown trail, Smarty (Jones) did not have one setback," Servis said. "When something goes picture perfect like that it's hard to believe. I like the fact that Oaklawn's Derby preps are all a month apart next year, which gives us more time between races. Last year, they were three weeks apart."

As for the Remsen, Servis said, "I told Rick I wanted to educate him, and this was an education. The other horse (Galloping Grocer) actually got the trip I wanted. He'd never been two turns before and still came home his last three-eighths in :37 and change. He answered a lot of questions. Here we go again."