02/14/2015 10:05AM

Bourbon Courage, Zee Bros invade for General George

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Tom Keyser
Bourbon Courage will start as one of the favorites Monday in the General George Handicap at Laurel Park.

Bourbon Courage vanned to Laurel Park from Tampa Bay Downs last week. Zee Bros shipped in from Hot Springs, Ark., on Friday. Hopefully, they packed their warmest blankets because this weekend’s winter carnival at Laurel Park is living up to its name, with the temperature not expected to crack freezing Sunday or Monday.

Zee Bros and Bourbon Courage figure as the top betting choices in the $250,000 General George Handicap on Monday, but their running styles are as different as the tropical South and frozen North in February.

Zee Bros is fast, as he showed in winning the $350,000 De Francis Dash at Laurel in November. Bourbon Courage has quite the kick, as he displayed in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, finishing faster than anyone in the field to be fourth, beaten two lengths.

The seven furlongs of the Grade 3 General George should help bring the two of them together. It might be a little long for Zee Bros while at the same time giving Bourbon Courage enough real estate to work with.

When post positions for the General George were drawn Monday, neither fared very well. Bourbon Courage will break from post 1 in the 12-horse field, not an easy assignment for a horse lacking speed.

Zee Bros is not badly situated in post 5, but the one horse who can keep him honest on the lead, Smash and Grab, is immediately to his inside.

The holiday card includes two $100,000 stakes for 3-year-olds, the Miracle Wood at one mile and the seven-furlong Wide Country for fillies. Monday's races from Laurel will be streamed live on DRF.com.

:: GENERAL GEORGE: Get PPs, watch Monday’s Laurel Park card live

Key Contenders

Bourbon Courage (Last 3 Beyers: 100-100-100)

* A two-turn horse for the better part of two years, he broke through with a victory going 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland in October. That performance encouraged trainer Kellyn Gorder to try the BC Sprint. If that race had been 6 1/2 furlongs, he likely would have had his picture taken. Instead, he had to settle for galloping out in front of the field.

His third in the Cigar Mile was solid. The track that day was biased to inside speed and compromised a number of horses who ran that day.

If Bourbon Courage runs well Monday, Gorder said he will point him to the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter at Aqueduct on April 4.

Zee Bros (Last 3 Beyers: 95-103-98)

Zee Bros worked a best-of-74 bullet five furlongs at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 7.

“He went awfully good,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “I think he’ll represent us very well in Maryland.”

The Laurel racing surface was playing to speed on De Francis Day, which may have worked to Zee Bros’s advantage.

Smash and Grab (Last 3 Beyers: 96-93-93)

Smash and Grab stumbled at the start of the De Francis and did not show his customary speed while beaten eight lengths.

He had a distance and course tune-up in a Laurel optional-claiming race Jan. 31. There was little speed in that race, and he was allowed to dictate the fractions while winning comfortably.

Outside Nashville (Last 3 Beyers: 94-104-90)

He accompanied Barbara Fritchie favorite Sam’s Sister on the flight from California for Jerry Hollendorfer. A turf and synthetic specialist, he finished second in a $50,000 stakes at Pleasanton in his only dirt start in June 2013.

Praetereo (Last 3 Beyers: 102-96-94)

Has improved dramatically since being claimed by trainer Michael Moore four starts back.

Scored a very sharp no-conditions allowance win at this distance in his most recent start at Parx.

Javerre (Last 3 Beyers: 95-89-79)

Won the General George in 2013.

May have moved prematurely in his last race, in which he opened a clear lead in upper stretch and then was caught late at Parx.

Big Business (Last 3 Beyers: 93-98-96)

Subbing here for trainer David Jacobson, who on Friday decided not to send Salutos Amigos, who would have been favored.