Tom McCarthy, the 76-year-old
owner and trainer of the one-horse stable that consists of last spring’s Grade
I Blue Grass Stakes winner General Quarters, watched his horse gallop
around the Fair Grounds course Tuesday morning in preparation for Saturday’s $75,000
Louisiana Handicap as part of the local oval’s six-stakes Road to the
Derby Kickoff Day program.
After winning the Blue Grass (and Tampa
Bay’s Grade III Sam F.
Davis Stakes earlier last winter), General Quarters was a victim of a troubled
trip in the Kentucky Derby, and was discovered to have a chip that
required surgery after another dull performance in the Preakness.
General Quarters did not return to
competition until Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds, where he finished second by a
half-length in a six-furlong sprint that might serve as an excellent tightener
for Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap.
Casual racing fans might remember
McCarthy as the subject of an Eclipse Award-winning television feature prior to
the Kentucky Derby – a show that followed McCarthy at Keeneland and Churchill,
interviewing him prior to the Blue Grass and also filmed McCarthy’s jubilation
while watching General Quarters’ victory in the Blue Grass.
“This horse has been feeling very good
the last few days,” said McCarthy Tuesday as he singlehandedly gave General
Quarters a bath following the gallop. “I think this horse is coming up to the
top of his game right now.
“You know, last spring when I gave this
horse a bath after the Kentucky Derby, one of his nostrils was completely
blocked with dirt, and his eye started closing up as I was bathing him,”
McCarthy said. “But most of all I remember how mad he was, because he never had
a chance to run his best race that day.”