The next week or so should be plenty fun, most interesting, and undoubtedly stressful for Kellyn Gorder.
Gorder, currently in a three-way tie atop the Turfway Park trainer standings, gets the stretch started Saturday when he takes a shot at the Northern Kentucky racetrack's signature race with General Election in the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes. He's got three entered Thursday and three others in different races than General Election Saturday, plenty of needed ammunition as he looks to keep pace with fellow leaders Jeff Greenhill and Burton Sipp.
Gorder won't get any rest next weekend. He'll be in New Orleans to saddle Bourbon Courage in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on the Louisiana Derby undercard.
"I've never been in a position like this before," Gorder said at Keeneland Thursday, the first full day of spring that featured biting cold temperatures, some sunshine and snow flurries during training. "It's definitely been fun for the stable to be in a tie for leading trainer. Normally I ship around so much that it's hard for me to [contend for leading trainer honors]. We run at a lot of different tracks, so it's hard.
"Of course I've entered a lot of horses the last couple of weeks and there's been some trouble getting the races we're trying to get in to go. I think I entered eight last week and only got one in. Some of the better horses are still down south so a lot of the allowance races aren't going."
Gorder thankfully wasn't looking for an allowance race for WinStar Farm's General Election, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes earlier in the meet and a contender for the Kentucky Derby depending on Saturday's outcome.
General Election is in tough Saturday, with South Florida shippers from some of the most powerful stables in the country among the dozen entered in the Spiral.
Gorder seems confident nonetheless. He should be, considering the Harlan's Holiday colt owns a win over the track and trained over the very similar Polytrack at Keeneland the last month. He'll also give a leg up to Albin Jimenez, currently second in the Turfway rider standings.
A lot of things are going in the right direction. The win over the track might be the biggest.
"We know he likes the racetrack," Gorder said. "I think it definitely is an advantage. Some horses don't take to that surface. I've seen horses ship in, look good, and you think that it's going to go perfect and great and they don't handle it. I also think it can't hurt that we only have to ship an hour and a half up the road. He gets to stay in his own stall."
"But it's a tough race, no doubt. Chad Brown's colt [Balance the Books] looks pretty tough and Mark Casse's [Uncaptured] looks like he's been breezing well down in Ocala."
General Election didn't break any stopwatches when Gorder breezed him at Keeneland last weekend, going a half mile in :51.80, second slowest of 27 on the day.
Sometimes what shows up on the watch and then on paper-or on the Internet these days-isn't a true indicator.
Gorder was by no means disappointed in the move, calling it an "easy move."
"He's really been training well," Gorder said. "He's a funny horse and not a great work horse. It takes a little time to get a good read on him, but that work was an easy half. He's plenty fit for the race."