The trainer in Jimmy Jerkens thought
maybe, just maybe, Quality Road could compete in the Kentucky Derby
even with a quarter crack injury that has slowed down his training
the last two weeks.
The horseman in Jerkens, however, knew otherwise.
Jerkens scratched the Florida Derby winner Monday after the
3-year-old colt missed a workout at Belmont Park, knocking one of
the favorites out of Saturday's Run for the Roses and further
muddying an already cloudy Derby picture.
"We couldn't train him so we decided we couldn't run him,"
Jerkens said. "He just isn't sound enough."
While Jerkens doesn't doubt the quarter crack could be
manageable by Saturday afternoon, he didn't want to force the issue
and thought a two-week layoff from serious work would be too much
to ask. Quality Road's last breeze was April 17 before the injury
"You're just kidding yourself if you think you can go out there
and run in the biggest race in the world and haven't trained,"
Jerkens said. "It's a shame because he's so talented."
Quality Road developed a quarter crack on his right front foot
last week, and Jerkens kept him under wraps while he recuperated.
The horse was patched up over the weekend and galloped Sunday on
Belmont's training track. While Quality Road appeared to be fine,
Jerkens became concerned after finding a spot of blood on the newly
On Monday morning, Jerkens noticed the colt's foot was sore and
that he was favoring it.
It was all Jerkens had to see. The son of Hall of Fame trainer
Allen Jerkens was looking to send out his first Derby starter but
instead will likely point Quality Road to the Preakness or the
"It's devastating," Jerkens said. "He's really sensitive on
the quarter. I don't know if you'd ever get a horse into the Derby
(again) with his credentials. We'll re-patch it but we can't do it
until all the soreness is out of it."
Quality Road has won 3-of-4 starts, including the Fountain of
Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby, where he beat another top Derby
contender in Dunkirk.
Dunkirk is all set to go for the Derby, one of three horses
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher suddenly finds himself
Quality Road's scratch bumped Join in the Dance - the
third-place finisher in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 11 - into
the 20-horse Derby field and gives Pletcher another shot at
reaching the infield winner's circle at Churchill Downs.
Pletcher is 0-for-21 in the first jewel of the Triple Crown and
Dunkirk figured to be his only shot this year.
Now he's got three horses in the Derby after Advice stunned
Square Eddie in the Lexington on April 17.
Join in the Dance looked ready for the biggest race of the year
on Monday, putting together a solid five furlong workout in 1:00.20
under Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr.
"He's an enthusiastic work horse, so it was good to see him
settle and work well today," Pletcher said. "He should be ready
Even if Join in the Dance will be a bit of a long shot.
The surer bets - if there are any to be made in one of the most
wide-open fields in recent memory - will likely be on Pioneerof the
Nile and I Want Revenge.
Both of those horses, however, still have plenty of questions.
Pioneerof the Nile has never run on dirt, and I Want Revenge looked
outclassed in California earlier this year before finding his
footing in New York while winning the Gotham Stakes and the Wood
The horse is co-owned by IEAH Stables, owners of last year's
Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown.
Michael Iavarone, who purchased a share of I Want Revenge after
he won the Gotham last month, hardly seems troubled about the
prospect of saddling a Derby favorite for the second straight year.
While Iavarone and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. opted to put Big
Brown on the far outside post to give him a clean trip, Iavarone
doesn't think his newest star is going to need it.
"He can win on any surface from anywhere," Iavarone said.
Quality Road's foot problems aren't lost on Iavarone. A quarter
crack discovered before last year's Belmont Stakes affected Big
Brown's training and may have led to his mystifying last-place
"They can be very painful, and certainly it altered the way we
tried to get him ready," Iavarone said. "Those things are part of
the game but you want to make sure you do right by your horse."