The highly regarded Top Billing will test stakes company for the first time Saturday in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Listed at 7-2 on the morning line, the stretch-running colt drew post 12 in the 13-horse field, but trainer Shug McGaughey isn't overly concerned about the post position in the 1 1/16-mile test.
"I don't think it's going to hurt him," McGaughey said. "Obviously, I'd rather be six of seven, but I'd rather be there than stuck down on the inside with his running style. Hopefully, the speed will show on the inside, and we can save a little ground around the first turn and get into position on the backside."
Top Billing, a son of Curlin and the A.P. Indy mare Parade Queen, will be ridden once again by jockey Joel Rosario. The chestnut colt was described as "a handful" in the early stages of his training last year, but has matured markedly and settled down in his current routine.
"He used to be a little rambunctious when they were breaking him, but he's never been that way since we've had him (at the track)," McGaughey remarked. "He's not that way now -- he's like a puppy dog. It's one of the good things about him, too, that traveling with him is not going be a problem."
The 68th running of the Fountain of Youth will offer Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 for the first four finishers. McGaughey secured his first victory in the Gulfstream feature last year with Orb, who was also making his stakes debut. Orb went on to capture the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.
McGaughey's other star sophomore, Honor Code, continued his comeback from a brief setback by working a half-mile in :49 3/5 at Gulfstream on Wednesday morning. The son of A.P. Indy has not raced since prevailing in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on November 30, when he defeated Cairo Prince.
"We walked him yesterday and jogged him this morning," McGaughey offered. "He seems to be pretty good."
McGaughey mentioned the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 15 as a possible spot for Honor Code.