What can be made of Bourbon Courage?
the case of the fast-developing 3-year-old son of Lion Heart owned by
Bourbon Lane Stable and Wayne Lynn, the jury is still out, but a spark
that has already developed into a warm winter fire at Fair Grounds this
season may become a roaring blaze before summer arrives.
It’s far too late for Sunday’s
Derby, and unfortunately, this spring’s
Kentucky Derby as well, but the Grade III Derby Trail
under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs April 28 looms on
the horizon for Bourbon Courage. If that goal is reached in the manner
Kellyn Gorder and his Fair Grounds-based assistant
Evan Downing are hoping for, who knows what may lie ahead? Is the
Preakness at Pimlico possible?
always best to take these things one race at a time,” said Downing late
Louisiana Derby week in New Orleans, “but if this horse runs as
well in the Derby Trial as we think he could, obviously the Preakness
(at Pimlico May 19) would be something to think about.”
Why the late start to Bourbon Courage’s sophomore campaign?
had just started working for Kellyn when this horse came down here to
Fair Grounds in November,” Downing said. “Kellyn had just lost two
good assistants at Keeneland who had decided to go back to England, but
they sent me some notes on this horse that said things like ‘trains
forwardly’ and ‘had one nice work up here’, but other than that, I
didn’t know too much about him.
I started galloping him, I had the sense that something wasn’t quite
right with him,” added Downing, who started galloping horses when
she was 12 and has been around the sport throughout her adult life
while working for her former husband trainer
Richie Scherer and later for two-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner
Steve Asmussen. “It took us awhile to figure him out,
but I think I’ve finally got it that he just didn’t like the Polytrack
at Keeneland and it took him a long time to recover from training on
it. It’s like
if someone had never been a runner and started running on pavement
right off they’d obviously get very sore very quickly and it would take
them quite some time to get over that soreness.
“Kellyn is a great guy to work for,” she said of her boss, a devotee of “natural horsemanship” guru
Ray Hunt who trained and managed horses like 2010 Kentucky Derby winner
Super Saver, 2010 Belmont Stakes winner and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic hero
Drosselmeyer and 2009 Dubai World Cup winner
Well Armed when they were all yearlings at Kentucky’s WinStar Farm. Gorder also worked for a number of years under Hall of Fame trainer
Jack Van Berg.
date, Bourbon Courage has made two starts, breaking his maiden by 4
1/4-lengths Feb. 3 and then coming back to tally by 6 3/4-lengths March
learned a lot since I’ve been working for Kellyn and I’ve got a great
deal of respect for him,” Downing added. “I like to work for people
who know what it is to sit on a horse and be able to communicate with
how the horse is feeling. I also feel like I’m learning a lot about
this horse as we’re moving along with him.
isn’t the kind of guy who’s going to jump up and down when they get
excited about a horse, but I love to see that big grin on his face
when we talk about this one,” Downing concluded. “I don’t think any of
us are afraid to think about how good this one might become.”