In a result that could have implications later in the 3-year-old season, improving Bourbonize got up just in time to edge favored Knock Em Flat by a neck in the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes April 12 at Oaklawn Park (VIDEO).

Bourbonize, an overlay at odds of 6-1, was ridden to victory by Ramon Vazquez for Bourbon Lane Stable and trainer Kellyn Gorder, who placed blinkers on the son of Tiz Wonderful   for the first time. Bourbonize had disappointed in his two most recent starts, the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and Sunland Derby (gr. III), and was taking a drop in class in the one-mile Northern Spur.

Stalking the pace from mid-pack while racing off the rail, Bourbonize rallied four wide off the turn and charged home to win while ridden out well past the wire by Vazquez. The final time was 1:38.09 on a fast track.

Knock Em Flat, who was scratched from the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) later on the card, finished second after getting the lead late with Luis Quinonez aboard as the 7-5 choice in the field of 10 sophomores. They were three-quarters of a length in front of pacesetter Fabulous Kid, who led to mid-stretch at 9-1 under Jareth Loveberry after carving quarter mile fractions of :23.06, :46:77, 1:11.44, and 1:24.62 in his second career start.

Bred in Kentucky by Troy Rankin and Joe Davis out of the Halo’s Image mare Brown Eyes, Bourbonize was a $40,000 buy as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale in 2012. 

The dark bay gelding graduated at first asking Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs going seven furlongs. He won his next start as well, taking a one-mile allowance on a sloppy track at Oaklawn Jan. 10. After that, he finished a well-beaten sixth in the Southwest Feb. 17 at Oaklawn and split the field in New Mexico’s Sunland Derby (gr. III).

The Northern Spur victory, worth $60,000, boosted Bourbonize’s career earnings to $151,058.

Bourbonize paid $14.20, $5.60, and $4.60, topping a $43.40 exacta with Knock Em Flat, who returned $4 and $3.20. Fabulous Kid paid $5 to show.

Six SpotSheltowee’s BoyRivers Run DeepSon of DixieUnstoppable ColbyNorthern Merit, and Zen’s Way completed the order of finish.

Written by Jack Shinar