07/19/2008 12:00AM

Ernesto stays hot in Johnson


Ernesto, who set a course record earlier in the meet at Lone Star Park, backed up that performance on Saturday when he pulled a mild upset in the $50,000 Bob Johnson Memorial. Ernesto won the one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up by a length and a quarter over favorite Red Rock Creek. It was another two lengths back in third to Objective.

Ernesto ($21.60) trailed the field early, as Willow O Wisp set a pressured pace of 23.11 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.53 for the half-mile. Ernesto advanced strongly on the final turn, drifted inward in midstretch, then went on to cover the distance on firm turf in 1:34.49.

Justin Shepherd rode Ernesto for owners James and Patricia Gallagher and trainer Danny Pish. The win was the third straight at the meet for Ernesto, who on July 4 set a course record for 7 1/2 furlongs when he covered the distance in 1:27.67 in a $45,000 optional claimer.