02/07/2014 2:27PM

Gulfstream Park notes: Bourbon Courage will have to overcome longer odds and losing streak in Donn

Tom Keyser
Bourbon Courage was pegged at 10-1 for Sunday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Ever since he romped in his career debut two years ago at 15-1, Bourbon Courage has never been higher than 6-1 in 13 subsequent starts. That’s even as he competed with regularity in graded stakes and against such heavy-heads as Shackleford, Graydar, Will Take Charge, and Game On Dude.

Those tote prices have been a pretty fair gauge of his ability. But when Bourbon Courage goes postward Sunday in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, it probably will be at his longest odds since his unveiling on Feb. 3, 2012, at Fair Grounds.

In a field of 11, Gulfstream linemaker Ron Nicoletti has pegged Bourbon Courage at 10-1, a number that would seem to correlate to the eight-race losing streak the 5-year-old horse brings to the Donn. Bourbon Courage, who has earned $878,277, was third as the 7-5 favorite behind River Seven in his last start, the Dec. 22 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream.

“We felt like he deserved a shot at this,” said Kellyn Gorder, who trains Bourbon Courage for Bourbon Lane Stables and Wayne Lynn. “The Donn has been our long-term goal. We felt he was a little disappointing in the Harlan’s Holiday, but speed seems to be pretty potent at Gulfstream, and River Seven ran a heck of a race.”

[Donn Handicap: Get PPs, watch Sunday's card live]

Bourbon Courage showed terrific speed as a younger horse but has developed a somewhat disconcerting habit of taking himself back in the early stages of his races.

“He has just become so relaxed that he almost gives himself too much to do,” said Gorder.

Bourbon Courage will break from post 9 Sunday and will be ridden for the first time by Jose Lezcano.

Bourbon Courage has posted three bullet works in a row at the Palm Meadows training center.

“Jose has been on board for his last three breezes, and it really looks like they get along,” said Gorder. “The horse has trained really well and hopefully he’ll be sharper for this one. Jose is excited, which makes me excited.”