LOUISVILLE — Florida Derby winner Quality Road's roller coaster ride toward the Kentucky Derby is apparently back on track.
One day after it was announced the son of Elusive Quality had developed a quarter crack in his right front hoof the bay colt jogged 13/4 miles at Belmont Park, prompting trainer Jimmy Jerkens to sound optimistic about his Derby chances.
Jerkens plans to gallop Quality Road on Sunday. If he comes out of that in good order, the colt will work at Belmont on Monday before shipping to Louisville the following day.
"The crack looked dry and there was no blood seeping from it, so we're planning on patching him tomorrow morning and galloping him," Jerkens said. "The way things are going, I'm pretty confident. I'm usually negative about everything by nature."
Quality Road's feet have become an issue in the aftermath of his 13/4-length triumph in the Florida Derby. A first quarter crack surfaced in his right hind hoof soon after the win.
That ailment appeared to be behind him after he put in a series of solid works, but a second crack — about a half-inch in size — developed this Thursday.
"Honestly, we didn't have any problem at all with his feet up until (the Florida Derby)," Jerkens said. "The foot seems to have a nice enough shape to it, it's nice and round, but in comparison to the rest of him, a little on the small side and his walls are kind of thin, which might be hereditary."
Quality Road last worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.19 on April 10 at Belmont, but Jerkens said more will need to be done for him to be Derby-ready.
"That was quite a while ago and we'll definitely have to do something by Monday to be prepared," he said. "A mile-and-a-quarter against the best horses in the country, you don't want to be going in short of conditioning."
Desert Party, Regal Ransom work out
The Godolphin Racing duo of UAE Derby winner Regal Ransom and Grade II winner Desert Party had trainer Saeed bin Suroor feeling confident Saturday morning after each turned in solid 5-furlong workouts at Churchill.
Regal Ransom covered the distance in :59.20, fastest of 30 moves, while Desert Party clocked the second fastest time at :59.60.
"They worked beautifully today," bin Suroor said. "Desert Party, I'm really happy with him. He's in good form and I liked the way he finished his work. The way he finished gives me confidence going into the race. Both of them traveled well from Dubai."
Although the Derby remains one of the few prizes owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has not yet earned, bin Suroor says this pair has a stronger foundation than any of Godolphin's previous Derby entrants.
"They each had three preps in Dubai and they both come into the race with no excuses," bin Suroor said. "You need the horses to have more experience before you have them in big races and I think this time we have that."
Also on the tab Saturday morning was Illinois Derby winner Musket Man, who overcame some unexpected glitches during his 5-furlong workout in 1:01.60.
"We had some company as we were breaking off and then had to check at the eighth pole with a horse stepping over right at the wire," trainer Derek Ryan said. "But it was a good work, just what we wanted."
Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem worked 7 furlongs in 1:29.20 and fellow Derby contender West Side Bernie covered 4 furlongs in :48.20.