Exercise rider Julie Sheets was in the saddle as the gray son of Sky Mesa zipped five furlongs in :58.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 over a “fast” track. The work by General Quarters was easily the fastest of 17 moves at the distance.
“I really wanted a 1:01 or right in that vicinity, he said, “but he did it on his own and she just sat on him. He’s got to be ready for something.”
McCarthy hopes that “something” will be a big effort in next week’s $750,000-added Toyota Blue Grass, the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep run over the synthetic Polytrack surface at the Lexington track. General Quarters burst onto the Kentucky Derby landscape in February with an upset victory in the Sam F. Davis, but is coming off a troubled fifth-place run behind Musket Man in his most recent outing in the March 14 Tampa Bay Derby (GIII).
“He got in a lot of trouble and he got cut-up pretty bad, but he’s doing fine now and he loves it here,” said McCarthy. “I’m just hoping he holds his condition and he’ll do good in the Blue Grass. He likes Polytrack.”
McCarthy, who claimed General Quarters for $20,000 out of the colt’s career debut in late May of last year at Churchill Downs – said the colt’s mission is clear if he is to earn a start in the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 2 at his hometown track.
“He’s got to hit the board in the Blue Grass – if he hits the board we’ll go on to the Derby,” said McCarthy. “When you’ve seen as many Derbies and Blue Grasses that I have, every single year, it’s just fantastic to think that I would have a horse in it. I’ve tried for so many years and failed, but now I’m just lucky.”
General Quarters has a record of 2-3-1 in 10 races and has earned $176,735. His earnings total in graded stakes races is $130,645.
Also on Saturday, Dogwood Stable’s Rushaway runner-up Ziegfeld breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 for trainer Dale Romans.
Dogwood Stable President Cot Campbell said earlier this week that the son of Elusive Quality would make his next start in either the Toyota Blue Grass or the Arkansas Derby (GII) at Oaklawn Park. Both races are scheduled to be run next Saturday, April 14.
Ziegfeld has one win in three career starts and earnings of $40,750 – but he has earnings in graded stakes races.
BARN TALK – Veteran Grade I stakes winner Brass Hat breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 for trainer William “Buff” Bradley. … Sam P., ninth in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, breezed three furlongs in :37.80. … Seaspeak breezed a half-mile in :47.60.