Quality Road still possible for Preakness and Belmont

Florida Derby winner Quality Road remains a possibility for the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, but will not run in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby due to a sore cracked hoof.

The 3-year-old colt missed a scheduled 5-furlong workout today at Belmont Park because of the injury to his right front hoof.

“It’s not terribly bad, but it’s not right,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens told USA Today. “He’s really sensitive on the quarter.”

Hoof specialist Ian McKinlay, who is working on Quality Road’s foot, is optimistic that the colt may compete in Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes on May 16.

“If this thing calms right down,” McKinlay said, “he’ll be back on track.”

Minor quarter crack unlikely to sideline Quality Road

Although Quality Road developed a new quarter crack, the hoof specialist working on the injury said he believes the colt will run in the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Ian McKinlay told Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog that the crack on his right front hoof is minor and Quality Road is in no pain. About a month ago, the Florida Derby winner also developed a quarter crack on his right hind foot, and McKinlay said the cracks are forming because Quality Road’s feet are disproportionately small when compared to the rest of his body.

“He’s a very, very big horse with a small foot,” McKinlay told Jurga.

Quality Road, who recovered from the first crack, has been training well and plans are for the horse to jog on Saturday, gallop on Sunday and breeze on Monday. If he’s sound on Tuesday, then Quality Road will ship to Churchill Downs, said trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

“Right now, he’s absolutely sound,” Jerkens said.

Quality Road’s Derby hopes ride on Ian. Watch him work

The hoof specialist who patched up Quality Road’s quarter crack this week made a video explaining exactly what he did.

Ian McKinlay inserted a drain inside the Kentucky Derby hopeful’s patch to allow any blood or fluid to flush out. It is not a procedure McKinlay normally performs on a quarter crack, but he did it as a precautionary measure because the stakes are high.

If Quality Road misses any training, it may cost him the Kentucky Derby.

McKinlay, who also worked to solve Big Brown’s feet problems last year, filmed the procedure to educate other hoof specialists and promote his company Tenderhoof Solutions. The video, which is narrated by McKinlay, was released on Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog Thursday and Quality Road is not the horse being worked on, but he had the same procedure.

Foot nearly healed, Quality Road likely to go in Ky Derby

Quality Road shown winning the Feb. 28 Fountain of Youth Stakes

Quality Road shown winning the Feb. 28 Fountain of Youth Stakes

By reading the comments from hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay, the quickly-improving quarter crack injury plaguing Florida Derby winner Quality Road is unlikely to keep the colt out of training or to miss the Kentucky Derby.

Numerous reports on web sites and blogs this week broke the news that Quality Road developed a quarter crack, which was noticed after the March 28 Florida Derby. The crack was patched before trainer Jimmy Jerkens sent the horse north from Florida to his new training base at Belmont Park.

Many of the stories left open the question of the severity of the injury and cast doubt on whether Quality Road would run in the Kentucky Derby, since a bad quarter crack could cause the colt to miss vast amounts of training. But Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog was one of the first to find out through McKinlay what everybody wanted to know: Would the quarter crack knock Quality Road out of the Kentucky Derby?

McKinlay, a New Jersey-based hoof specialist who Jerkens summoned to attend to Quality Road’s foot, told Jurga in a story published on Monday that the injury is relatively minor. When he arrived at Belmont, McKinlay pulled off the old patch, cleaned up the crack, then laced it with steel sutures.

“The whole thing should be over by this weekend and he’ll be on his way,” said McKinlay, who last year worked on Big Brown’s hoof problems in both front feet and the quarter crack Big Brown developed leading up to the Belmont Stakes.

McKinlay said Quality Road’s injury does not compare to what Big Brown went through. Although Big Brown had foot problems, he still competed in all three Triple Crown races. 

“This is no Big Brown-type of situation,” McKinlay added.

Quality Road impressively won both the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby this spring to become one of the Kentucky Derby future book favorites. If he starts, Quality Road would enter the Derby gate with consecutive Beyer Speed Figures in excess of 110 in his previous two races.

And that’s significant because the last six runnings of the Derby were all won by colts who ran less than 110 on the Beyer scale. 

On Wednesday, Quality Road galloped at Belmont Park and McKinlay applied a new patch with a drain for any blood to channel out. When horses have injuries, the area heats up indicating inflammation. But McKinlay said the crack was “ice cold” when Quality Road came back to the barn.

“That thing looked perfect. He went to the track, galloped, came back and looked great,” he told the Bloodhorse. “If the foot is cold tomorrow, it’s a done deal; it’s behind us.”

The drain that McKinlay added to his patching technique is not something he normally does with a quarter crack. But since it is imperative that Quality Road not miss any training, McKinlay modified his patching procedure.

“It’s probably overkill, but why take any chances?” McKinlay said.

Jerkens plans to give Quality Road his first workout since the Florida Derby on Friday or Saturday depending on the weather.

Information in this story from Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog was used with permission.

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