07/16/2016 4:54PM

Gorgeous Bird shortens in distance to take Don Bernhardt Stakes

Coady Photography
Gorgeous Bird, under Chris Landeros, scores by a half-length in the 6 1/2-furlong Don Bernhardt.

Gorgeous Bird powered through rivals in deep stretch to register his first stakes victory Saturday in the $50,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park in western Kentucky.

Black Bear finished second, a half-length behind the winner, while Barbados was never a factor as the even-money favorite when finishing seventh of eight older horses.

Gorgeous Bird, a 4-year-old by Unbridled’s Song, was making his 14th career start for owner-breeder Marylou Whitney. He was ridden by Chris Landeros for his father-in-law, trainer Ian Wilkes.

“I expected a big run from him today,” said Landeros. “We had a great trip and he kicked in when I asked him.”

Gorgeous Bird raced in mid-pack for much of the way before rallying between horses to overtake the tiring pacesetter, Tanner’s Popsicle. He returned $15.80 after finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.70 over a fast track.

A winner in two of his first three career starts, Gorgeous Bird was given a chance on the 2015 Kentucky Derby trail but finished off the board in the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass. With just one win from his last 10 starts, the colt was regrouped following his most recent race at his home base, Churchill Downs, with the thought of shortening him up, said assistant trainer Bob Tucker. Gorgeous Bird's last eight races had been between a mile and 1 1/8 miles.

“Sprinting definitely is his game,” said Tucker. “Chris rode a great race.”

The $2 exacta (3-6) paid $80.60, the $1 trifecta (3-6-4) returned $364.20, and the 10-cent superfecta (3-6-4-2) was worth $183.78.