Bourbon Courage, under a head of steam for jockey Leandro Goncalves, blew past Master Rick at mid-stretch to win the $500,000 Super Derby (gr. II) in a romp for the colt’s first stakes victory Sept. 8 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs (VIDEO).

In an impressive display, the winning son of Lion Heart rolled to a five-length triumph after rallying from mid-pack while wide on the far turn. Bourbon Courage, second choice in the field of nine 3-year-olds, was timed in 1:51.40 for the 1 1/8-mile main track test.

Trained by Kellyn Gorder and owned by Bourbon Lane Stable and Wayne Lynn, Bourbon Courage was coming off a runner-up finish in the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) Aug. 4 at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.

Bred in Kentucky by Oscar and Eloise Penn, Bourbon Courage is out of the Carson City mare Shine Forth. The bay colt sold for $15,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale in 2010.

Front-running Swaps Stakes (gr. II) victor Blueskiesnrainbows was the 8-5 favorite. But the Bob Baffert-trained colt could not shake Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Hero of Order   as those two sped through quarter mile fractions of :23.14, :47.19, and 1:12.43.

The leaders were weakening as they left the turn with 44-1 shot Master Rick, ridden from the second flight of horses by Gerard Melancon, taking a narrow advantage into the lane. Master Rick led to nearly mid-stretch but was no match for Bourbon Courage, who drove into contention and quickly drew away in spite of drifting out under the left-handed whip of Goncalves.

Fly Lexis Fly, invading from Southern California for trainer Neil Drysdale, rallied willingly down the center of the stretch under Luis Quinonez to nose out Master Rick for second.

Gorder told Daily Racing Form he was pleased to see how the Super Derby was unfolding early.

“Watching the race I was tickled when I saw a speed duel developing on the front end, which was kind of what we thought would happen,” he said. “I was happy that they went the half in 47 (seconds) and change, and he looked like he was traveling really comfortable. I told Leandro, one of the things that this horse really likes to do is he runs the turns so well, and if you watch the race he really ran the turns well.”

Gorder said the options for Bourbon Courage include the $500,000 Indiana Derby (gr. II) at Hoosier Park Oct. 6, and the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park Sept. 30.

Currently based at Churchill Downs, Bourbon Courage began his career with a pair of eye-catching wins at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots earlier this year before moving into stakes company in the spring for Gorder. He ran fourth in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (gr. III) at Churchill in April prior to a fifth-place effort in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (gr. II) at Belmont Park June 9.

Bourbon Courage had a two-month freshening before stretching out to two turns in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby. His career record now stands at three wins and a second in six starts with earnings of $520,345.

Under equal weights of 124 pounds, Bourbon Courage paid $7.20, $4, $3.60. Fly Lexis Fly, a dual Peruvian grade I winner making just his second United States start, returned $6.40 and $5.80. The exacta was worth $46.60. Master Rick, attempting to give trainer Steve Asmussen his first Super Derby victory, paid $13.60 to show.

Rousing Sermon rallied from last to take fourth. Then came Tensas Cold Front, Hero of Order, Blueskiesnrainbows, and Key DonationMr Bluegrass Music stopped with a half-mile to run.

Written by: Jack Shinar