Johannesburg To Make 3-Year-Old Debut in Sunday's Gladness Stakes

Johannesburg To Make 3-Year-Old Debut in Sunday's Gladness Stakes
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Trainer Aidan O'Brien: "With this being his first start of the year, we realize it's a tough race, but hopefully he'll run well and won't get abused."
With the ground at the Curragh drying up after a several days of beautiful weather, plans for Johannesburg are now to run in the seven-furlong Gladness Stakes on Sunday, as originally planned.

"The weather has been very good," trainer Aidan O'Brien said from his Ballydoyle headquarters. "I walked the course this evening and the ground looks like it has dried out very well. So we have decided to go back to our original plan and run in the Gladness."

The Gladness will not be an easy spot for Johannesburg, who will be facing some classy older horses.

"He'll have to carry a seven-pound penalty for winning a group I race," O'Brien said. "It's not easy for a 3-year-old running against 4- 5- and 6-year-olds, especially when you have to carry the group I penalty. With this being his first start of the year, we realize it's a tough race, but hopefully he'll run well and won't get abused."

With Johannesburg running at the Curragh, stablemate Castle Gandolfo, who also is being pointed for the Kentucky Derby, will contest Saturday's Fosters International Trial Stakes at one mile on the all-weather track at Lingfield.

"We've always thought Castle Gandolfo was a good horse," O'Brien said. "He was a very good 2-year-old, and both times he was beaten in group I races at a mile and a mile and a quarter, it was against stable companions. And each time, it was on very heavy ground, which doesn't suit him. He's bred for the dirt, and we just want to see how he handles it on Saturday."

After winning the group III Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, the son of Gone West was beaten three-quarters of a length in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and one length in the 10-furlong Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

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