Johannesbourbon made his debut on March 25 at Turfway Park, romping by 9 3/4 lengths while going 6 1/2 furlongs. Off that effort, he's now stakes company in the Grade III Coolmore Lexington. Meanwhile, stable mate Bourbon Courage is being pointed to the Grade III Derby Trial.
“He ran a big Sheets number in his first race,” trainer Kellyn Gorder said. “I know it was Turfway, and we really didn’t know what he beat. He’s been in that first stall since he came here."
Gorder got an idea of what Johannesbourbon beat on Wednesday when Potomac River, the runner-up in the Turfway race, was an impressive three-length winner of a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Keeneland in which he passed the majority of the field on the backstretch and then drew off in the lane.
“That validated the race a little bit,” Gorder said. “Mike McMahon and Jamie Hill (of Bourbon Lane) had an idea of what they had. They thought they would have a shot at going into the Lexington if he ran as well as they thought he would.”
Johannesbourbon has had two works since his victory with the most recent being a five-eighths move in :58.40.
“My assistant, Johnny Ortiz, was on him for that work, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:11,” Gorder said. “I don’t give my horses fast works, but he works fast. I hold my breath every time he’s out there.”
Garrett Gomez, who won the Coolmore Lexington in 2009 with Advice and 1994 with Southern Rhythm, will have the mount Saturday.
“We decided to take a shot,” Gorder said. “It is his hometown track, and he gets over the Polytrack really well. His first race was only 6 1/2 furlongs, but it looks like he will like two turns.”
Bourbon Courage to Derby Trial
Gorder has another promising 3-year-old in the barn for Bourbon Lane in Bourbon Courage, who is undefeated in two starts. Bourbon Courage won his debut by 4 1/4 lengths and his second race by 6 3/4 lengths at odds of 3-10.
“Three or four horses came back out of his maiden race and won, so that was a pretty productive race,” Gorder said of Bourbon Courage, who is owned in partnership by Wayne Lynn. “He is being pointed to the Derby Trial.
“In his second start, he showed a different dimension. He broke kind of flat-footed, and three horses put about six lengths on him. What was impressive was the way he passed them and then drew off. He is by Lion Heart out of a Carson City mare. Lion Heart was runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, and I think he can get a one-turn mile.”
--Edited Keeneland release