Gulfstream Park News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Top Billing finished second, a neck behind Todd Pletcher-trained Commissioner, in Friday’s ninth race, an entry-level allowance blessed with several 3-year-old prospects, but it wasn’t difficult for trainer Shug McGaughey to find the silver lining.
“He ran a good race – that’s what I was looking for. I liked the way he ran and handled everything. Being second, I can run him back in another A-other-than (allowance). Had he won, I probably would have had to run him back in a stake,” McGaughey said Saturday morning. “I always take them over to win, but it was very, very impressive the way he ran.”
Coming off a debut victory, Top Billing dropped back to last on the backstretch in the 1 1/8-mile race. After saving ground along the turn into the homestretch, jockey Joel Rosario swung the son of Curlin to the middle of the track for the stretch run, Commissioner to his inside and Hy Kodiak Warrior to his outside. Top Billing’s momentum was likely compromised by being briefly crowded, but he continued on to finish well and gallop out strongly.
“I was very impressed. I think it’s very difficult for a horse to go from three-quarters around one turn to go a mile and an eighth, especially over this track,” McGaughey said. “He got all the worst of it. He got all the dirt from back to where he was, that probably went into why he didn’t run well the first part of it. He got squeezed the first part of it. It wasn’t all roses from there and handled it all, ran through it all. He was probably the best, but he was second.”
Top Billing debuted at Laurel on Dec. 6, overcoming early crowding to finish with a rush to win going away by five lengths at six furlongs.
“He went the wrong way on me in the summer. He sort of lightened up more than I liked and I backed off on him and sent him to Fair Hill,” McGaughey said. “He trained down there and got ready to run. Instead of putting him on a van to run down here, I said, ‘Let’s just run him here.’”
Owned and bred by William Farish and Edward J. Hudson Irrevocable Trust, Top Billing is likely to return to action in another entry-level allowance route.
“Looking at him, he’s got some more developing to do, which I like,” McGaughey said. “I think his future is in front of him.”
McGaughey is also pleased with the recent works of his two other 3-year-old prospects, Remsen (G2) winner Honor Code and Dania Beach Stakes (G3) victor Mr. Speaker.
The Hall of Fame trainer said the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream on Feb. 22 remains the likely goal for Honor Code, who breezed three furlongs in 39 seconds at Gulfstream Park last Tuesday. Mr. Speaker, who romped to a 2 ¾-length victory over the Gulfstream turf course in the Dania Beach, breezed a half-mile at Payson Park in 49 1/5 seconds Friday with an eye toward a possible start in the $400,000 Holy Bull (G2) on Jan. 25.
“He worked very well (Friday) on the dirt. Next weekend, I plan on putting him behind a horse and let the dirt hit him in the face,” McGaughey said. “Then, I’ll make up my mind from there.”
Mucho Macho Man Gears Up for 2014 Debut
Mucho Macho Man geared up for his 2014 debut Saturday with a sharp half-mile breeze at Gulfstream Park. The 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic victor was clocked in 47 1/5 seconds under exercise rider Nick Petro Jr., including a final quarter of a mile in 23 1/5 seconds.“He did it easy, nice,” said Finn Green, stable manager for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. “He went really well. He’s great, really happy.”The Kathy Ritvo-trained winner of $5.3 million galloped out 1:00 3/5.The $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for Florida-bred horses at Gulfstream on Jan. 18 is a possible launching off spot for Mucho Macho Man’s 2014 campaign that will be designed with a Breeders’ Cup Classic title defense at Santa Anita in mind. “In the next several days, we’ll make a decision where he’ll run,” Green said.
Jerry Love Stepping Up for Sunday’s $100,000 Ginger Brew
A winner in her first start on turf, Jerry Love will be taking a step up in competition when she faces a solid group of 3-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Ginger Brew on Sunday.
Trained by Mike Trombetta for owner Robert Evans, Jerry Love stretches out to 1 1/16 miles for the Ginger Brew off a one-mile entry-level allowance win at Laurel Park on Nov. 7, her first time facing winners.
“It’s the deepest test that she’s had so far,” Trombetta said. “Obviously, there’s some horses in there that they have high expectations for, some expensive horses, a little bit of everything. She’s done very well. She’s always looked like she could run some. We tried her twice on the dirt and when we got her on the synthetic, she shifted into gear, then won on the turf at her first asking. She kind of warranted bringing down and giving her a try on a surface that she likes for a couple starts.”
After finishing off the board in two dirt tries, Jerry Love lost by a neck in a maiden event on the Polytrack at Presque Isle Downs in September before breaking her maiden at Keeneland on Oct. 17. Moved to the grass, she rallied from off the pace to win by a length at Laurel.
“She ran pretty professionally, so we’re excited about her,” Trombetta said. “As long as she gets a good trip, she should do just fine.”