ELMONT, N.Y. - Quality Road's bid to make Saturday's Kentucky Derby ended Monday morning when the colt's right front foot was simply too sore to allow him to train.
Quality Road had developed a quarter crack on his right front foot last Thursday, but his connections were hopeful the horse could still make the Derby. However, Quality Road needed to get a workout in Monday morning, but instead was relegated to standing in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts in an attempt to get the soreness out of the foot.
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens noted that the quarter crack on Quality Road's right front foot was simply too sensitive when the horse walked the shed row Monday morning. On Sunday, Quality Road had some blood trickle out of the foot after galloping 1 3/4 miles over Belmont Park's training track.
"It's devastating," Jerkens, 50, said about missing out on the chance to run Quality Road in the Derby. "I don't know if you could ever get a horse for a race like the Derby with his credentials leading up to it."
Quality Road won 3 of his 4 starts including the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. His victories impressed his jockey, John Velazquez, who was a visitor to Jerkens' barn Monday morning.
"The things he's done so quickly for a horse coming from three quarters to a mile to a mile and an eighth; what he did was impressive, very impressive," said Velazquez, who picked up the mount on Mr. Hot Stuff for the Derby.
Ed Evans, the owner and breeder of Quality Road, had been to the barn three consecutive mornings hoping to get some good news. Instead, he must now think ahead to other races, which could include the Preakness on May 16 but more likely will feature other 3-year-old races later this summer.
"It's very disappointing because everybody, everywhere was rooting for him, wanted him to get there," Evans said. "We raise horses; we got to do what's right for the horses. We're used to being told by the horse what to do. We've got several hundred horses on the farm telling us what to do. We're like the junior partner sometimes."
Quality Road had been sending signals for a while that the Derby was not in his plans. He suffered a quarter crack on his right hind foot the day he won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, but that had not proven to be a hindrance to the colt. Last Thursday, after galloping three-quarters of a mile following a gate-schooling session, Jerkens noticed the crack on the colt's right front foot.
The horse did not train Friday and just jogged on Saturday. Noted equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay put a patch and a drain on the foot on Sunday morning before the gallop. Though there was the trickle of blood, Quality Road did gallop sound.
After examining Quality Road Monday morning, McKinlay shaved off a quarter of the shoe "to take the pressure off the quarter." The horse then stood in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts for 20 minutes.
"He's tender in that heel, [it] never went away," McKinlay said.
McKinlay said he would examine Quality Road again on Tuesday to see how the foot progressed overnight. If the soreness is gone, it is conceivable Quality Road could jog Tuesday and resume normal training on Wednesday.
"We're just looking for that coronet band to calm down," McKinlay said. "If he's sound, he'll go out and jog him and he'll probably be perfectly sound by the weekend."