Updated on 09/16/2011 8:07AM

At last: Johannesburg!

Johannesburg wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to wind up his perfect 2-year-old season.

CURRAGH, Ireland - After weeks of preparation in the Irish countryside and a mountain of speculation about his Kentucky Derby chances, international champion Johannesburg will make his 2002 debut at Curragh Race Course just west of Dublin on Sunday in the Castlemartin/La Louviere Studs Gladness Stakes.

At seven furlongs over an inclining, straightaway grass course that figures to be soft, the Gladness drew a field of seven, including Johannesburg's regular traveling partner and workmate, Shoal Creek. The trip from Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle training center to Curragh Race Course will take about two hours by van on the morning of the race. Post time for the Gladness Stakes is 9:45 a.m. Eastern.

"It will be a good test for him," O'Brien said as he stood by Johannesburg's stall in Ballydoyle's main training yard. "He'll need to be fit because of the ground. And he'll be running against older horses."

Asked to describe Johannesburg's condition, O'Brien stepped into the colt's stall and smiled.

"He couldn't be doing better," the trainer said. "He's grown as well, both taller and heavier. You never know, do you, if they will take that step from 2 to 3."

Johannesburg will be running in the same race that launched the spectacular 2000 campaign of Giant's Causeway, the five-time Group 1 winner who was trained by O'Brien at Ballydoyle. Giant's Causeway began that season with a victory in the Gladness and concluded his career by finishing second to Tiznow that fall in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

After concluding his perfect 2001 campaign with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park, Johannesburg and the rest of the Ballydoyle horses were delayed in their early 2002 training by an extremely wet Irish winter.

O'Brien made up for lost time quickly, however, with a series of sharp workouts for Johannesburg over a variety of surfaces, including a day trip to England to work on the all-weather surface at Lingfield.

For the Gladness, Johannesburg drew the number one post and will have Mick Kinane aboard, as usual. Under the allowance conditions of the Group 3 race, the 3-year-old Johannesburg carries 125 pounds, while the older filly Rebelline, winner of the 2001 Pretty Polly Stakes, carries top weight of 136 pounds.

In addition to Shoal Creek, the others in the field are Tarry Flynn, runner-up to Giant's Causeway in the 2000 Gladness, and minor stakes winners One Won One, Cool Clarity, and Gaelic Queen.