Updated on 09/16/2011 6:59AM

Johannesburg still on target


CHELTENHAM, England - Johannesburg, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and champion 2-year-old colt of 2001, worked Tuesday and remains on schedule for an attempt at the Kentucky Derby on May 4, trainer Aidan O'Brien said.

Speaking from the National Hunt Festival, O'Brien said that Johannesburg worked five furlongs in 56 seconds in Ireland and that he was not surprised by the quick time.

"His works are always fast," O'Brien said. "So far, so good."

O'Brien had previously said that Johannesburg would prep for the Kentucky Derby in the Gladness Stakes at The Curragh on April 7. On Tuesday, he backed away from that statement, but has not ruled out that race. The Gladness Stakes is run over seven furlongs on turf.

O'Brien said several early season stakes in Ireland or England, many of which are designed to prepare horses for the 2000 Guineas run over a mile on turf in each country, are under consideration.

"We plan on giving him a run in early April," O'Brien said. "There are plenty of trials. We'll consider them all."

O'Brien said that Johannesburg will not start in a Kentucky Derby prep in the U.S.

"It might be too competitive for a trial over there," he said.

Johannesburg has had "about six" workouts since he began preparing for a 2002 campaign, O'Brien said. Even though there are all-weather facilities at Ballydole, where O'Brien's horses are housed, Johannesburg worked on turf.

Since the Breeders' Cup, Johannesburg has grown physically and mentally, O'Brien said.

"He's doing well and he's grown and lengthened," he said. "But he was a very mature 2-year-old. He's very relaxed for such a quick horse."

Johannesburg concluded his 2-year-old season with a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile as third choice at 7-1. In Europe, Johannesburg won five stakes, including three Grade 1's. He ended 2001 with a 7-for-7 record.