Gulfstream Park News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL- Dania Beach Stakes winner Mr Speaker breezed a half-mile at Payson Park Sunday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in next Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
“He worked in :49 2/5 and worked great,” trainer Shug McGaughey said.
Mr Speaker is set to make his debut on dirt in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull after making his first four starts on turf, including a maiden score at Belmont and his subsequent victory in his stakes debut in the Dania Beach (G3) at Gulfstream on Dec. 21.
The son of Pulpit is out of Salute, a daughter of undefeated champion Personal Ensign.
“Pulpit never ran on the turf. Salute never ran on the turf,” McGaughey said. “He’s trained good on the dirt.”
The final decision to point Mr Speaker to the Holy Bull was made after he worked behind horses at Payson last week to see how the Phipps Stable’s homebred colt would handle kickback.
“He handled it fine. I just wanted to see how he’d handle the dirt, and he handled it fine,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey has scheduled a work for Top Billing, a lightly raced 3-year-old son of Curlin, at Payson Park on Monday.
Top Billing broke his maiden at first asking at Laurel in December before coming back a month later in a Gulfstream allowance, in which he closed with a rush to finished second behind highly regarded Commissioner by a neck.
Honor Code, the most accomplished McGaughey-trained 3-year-old, galloped Sunday morning at Payson after breezing three furlongs in 38.10 seconds Saturday morning.
“I think everything is in good shape,” said McGaughey, who is pointing the son of A.P. Indy to the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream on Feb. 22.
Honor Code concluded his 2-year-old campaign with a nose win in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 30. He subsequently underwent surgery to remove an undescended testicle.
Cairo Prince, Almost Famous Sharp in Holy Bull Tune-Up at Palm Meadows
Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Cairo Prince tuned up for a scheduled start in Saturday’s Holy Bull during a sharp half-mile breeze at Palm Meadows in 48 2/5 seconds Sunday morning.
“We couldn’t be happier. It was exactly what we were looking for,” McLaughlin said. “He’s ready to go.” Cairo Prince launched his career with a victories in a maiden race at Belmont and the Nashua (G2) at Aqueduct before being nosed out by Honor Code in a memorable Remsen finish.
Patrick Byrne-trained Almost Famous also breezed a half-mile in 48 2/5 seconds at Palm Meadows while prepping for the Holy Bull.
“I was very happy with it. He went up a little quicker than I liked. He worked on his own from the half-mile pole to the wire and galloped out in 1:02 and three-quarters in 1:17,” Byrne said. “He’s ready to go Saturday. Almost Famous is coming off an impressive six-length allowance victory at Churchill Downs in his first trip around two turns.
“I just put some blinkers on him, just to keep him focused a little, and it worked,” said Byrne, whose colt rebounded from a previously disappointing effort in an overnight stakes.
Calvin Borel, who was aboard for his debut victory at Churchill in September, will be reunited with Almost Famous in the Holy Bull.
Other Holy Bull candidates that worked at Palm Meadows: Chad Brown-trained Coupe de Grace, a bullet half-mile in :47.40, and Intense Holiday, an easy half in :49.05.