05/18/2005 11:00PM

Wholelottabourbon goes long


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wholelottabourbon, Canada's reigning champion 2-year-old, will try to stretch his blazing speed out around two turns in Saturday's $165,900 Marine Stakes for 3-year-olds at Woodbine.

Wholelottabourbon, a winner of 5 of 6 starts, had a sensational season debut over a sloppy track in the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes, during which he shrugged off two challenges on the front end and won by a half-length.

"That was a heck of a race," trainer Nick Gonzalez said. "If those horses were ever going to beat him, that was the time to do it, because they were all either winter-trained or winter-raced. He just fought hard."

Gonzalez believes the 1 1/16-mile Marine is far from ideal for Wholelottabourbon's first route attempt, but he said he had no other options for him. Wholelottabourbon possesses a sprint-oriented pedigree, but Gonzalez thinks the gelding has the tools to handle the distance.

"Whenever I've galloped him two miles, he's always gotten stronger the second mile," Gonzalez said. "After he won the Woodstock, I started training him differently and started galloping him two and a half miles a day, with the intention of running in this race. If things go reasonably well for him the first part of the race, I think we'll be fine."

Seven others are entered in the Grade 3 Marine, including Lakeville Rush, Unbridled Energy, and 2004 Display Stakes winner One Smooth Ride.

Lakeville Rush was an impressive front-running winner of a six-furlong allowance here April 30. Trainer Dave Dwyer would prefer to see Lakeville Rush in a stalking position, but said he wasn't going to let Wholelottabourbon get away with setting soft fractions.

Unbridled Energy, based at Churchill Downs with trainer Elliott Walden, hasn't run since he captured a 7 1/2-furlong allowance at Gulfstream in March. He earned Beyer Speed Figures in the mid-80's in his two wins, and had a troubled trip in his only losing race.

One Smooth Ride rallied from far back when fifth against older $62,500 opposition in his season opener, an effort that was satisfactory to trainer Dave Cotey.

"He stumbled coming out of the gate, but he closed willingly and galloped out well," Cotey said. "After that, he went to the farm for a week and galloped there, and then we brought him back in.

"We worked him five-eighths [Monday] in 1:02 and change. We were happy with that, because he's not a work horse. He's sound and feeling well. We're just hoping there's a little speed in the race for him to run at."