02/17/2014 4:58PM

Gulfstream Park: Top Billing draws post 12 for Fountain of Youth; Commissioner favored

Barbara D. Livingston
Top Billing was made the 7-2 second choice on the morning line for Saturday's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes after drawing post 12 in a 13-horse field.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A year ago, trainer Shug McGaughey won the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes from the rail with Orb. On Saturday, the Hall of Fame horseman will defend that title from the other end of the post-position spectrum after his Top Billing drew post 12 in a bulky field of 13 3-year-olds entered Monday for the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

Top Billing, who has won two of his three starts, including an entry-level allowance race in impressive fashion here last month, was originally to have been the morning-line favorite for the Fountain of Youth, according to track oddsmaker Ron Nicoletti. But after drawing post 12, Top Billing will be the second choice in the program at 7-2 behind Commissioner at 3-1.

Commissioner, like Orb last year, breaks from post 1 on Saturday. Joel Rosario will again ride Top Billing, while John Velazquez has the mount on Commissioner.

The rest of the Fountain of Youth field, in post-position order: We Miss Artie (Joe Bravo), Medal Count (Joe Rocco Jr.), Wildcat Red (Luis Saez), General a Rod (Javier Castellano), Casiguapo (Jose Lezcano), C. Zee (Edgard Zayas), Almost Famous (Calvin Borel), Best Plan Yet (Paco Lopez), Our Caravan (Corey Lanerie), Hesinfront (Abdiel Jaen), and East Hall (Juan Leyva).

The Fountain of Youth offers 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the May 3 race should more than the maximum of 20 horses enter. The Fountain of Youth also offers 20 points to the runner-up, 10 for third place, and 5 for fourth.

McGaughey naturally was disappointed that Top Billing drew outside but said it won’t dissuade him from running in the Fountain of Youth.

“It’s not like he’s going to be on the lead,” McGaughey said. “Joel’s just going to have to get him over a bit going to the first turn. He had him a little wide to keep him out of the dirt when he won his last race. We overcame post 1 to win this race last year with Orb. Now, we’ll have to overcome post 12 to do it again this time.”

Top Billing breezed an easy half-mile in 50.40 seconds at Payson Park on Monday.

“I put him in company to sort of get him in the game, and I thought he went fine,” McGaughey said. “He just went an easy half-mile, out five-eighths. I didn’t want to overcook him.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Trainer Todd Pletcher was relieved to have drawn better than Top Billing with both Commissioner and We Miss Artie on Monday.

“When the field got up to 13, you naturally fear drawing way outside,” Pletcher said. “But as I’ve said before, you can get good trips and bad trips from any post. Hopefully, we’ll be able to secure good position for both horses from their inside posts.”

Pletcher said he decided to give We Miss Artie, a Grade 1 winner on Polytrack at 2 and the runner-up in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on turf in his 3-year-old debut, one more chance to prove his mettle on dirt.

“The horse has been training too well on dirt since the Kitten’s Joy not to give him another opportunity,” Pletcher said. “He impressed us again Sunday morning, and now is the time to see where we are with him. If he runs well, we’ll have a lot of dirt options.”

General a Rod, idle since capturing the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, is well drawn in post 5 for the Fountain of Youth. General a Rod turned in another in a series of good works since the Gulfstream Park Derby when going five furlongs in 1:00 here Sunday.

“We decided to skip the Holy Bull because I thought it would be asking too much of him to run in all these big races,” trainer Mike Maker said. “But he’s doing well, and Saturday will certainly be the acid test for him, to see if he fits with these types of horses.”

[Clocker Reports: Get Mike Welsch’s clocker reports from Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows]

An honest pace is expected in the Fountain of Youth, with Wildcat Red, winner of the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, and Almost Famous, who ran well after contesting an honest pace in the Holy Bull, in the lineup.

◗ A field of eight 3-year-old fillies also was drawn Monday for Saturday’s Grade 2 Davona Dale. The lineup is topped by Pletcher’s pair of Onlyforyou and Stopchargingmaria. They will take on a group that includes Abou, Luna Santa, Aurelia’s Belle, House Rules, and Penwith.

rick smith More than 1 year ago
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Appreciate your concern, Rick but Matt Hegarty covered that story on 3 Feb 14. The problem seems to be a conflict with dates. I don't see how Matt can fix that.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
To break his Maiden going 6 panels on a sloppy Laurel Park strip from far far back as a 2YO just tells you or should tell us that this boy can just flat out run. First time out and to win like that, got covered in mud, wasn't a problem, picked up every target in front of him while weaving through a bit of traffic like he has done it many times. A winner ! A race horse every owner would dream to have. Winning like that made me think Derby right off the bat. I know it was early to think, but to think isn't so bad.....
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
I was just pointing that out at work. Maiden first time starters do NOT put efforts like that in followed by the lightining fast efforts he has. Either he or General a Rod are hitting the line first. You can safely leave the rest off the win ticket.
Matt Banchero More than 1 year ago
Almost Famous will be Famous after Saturday ! BOOM!
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Matt, please save any money you were planning on spending on that ticket.
Kimberly Shugars More than 1 year ago
Im actually on the Almost Famous Bandwagon...Love those Unbridleds Song's. Also liking Rise Up in the Risen Star, Kinda Prophetic isnt it, Risen Star, Rise Up..Like its meant to be.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Either the horse is fast enough or he's not, regardless of pedigree and this horse is not there yet.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Ron is the worst handicapper/ml man in the world.He must have the goods on someone to keep that job.Such a great track has 2 know nothins doing their live feed.Thank god HRTV has Caton on t.v.
Five More than 1 year ago
I know it's a toss-up with Ron and Margo for that worst handicapper title.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a public handicapper is extremely difficult. At least they put their opinions on the line unlike every "big winner" in forums such as these who come on after a race has been run and talk about how their logic led them to an $800 exacta.
Corky Pretzels More than 1 year ago
Agree with your point in general, but Ron is pretty awful.
Brian More than 1 year ago
Bosinakis is adorable and has decent eye in the paddock. Ron is a nice guy. Anything else who cares...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First real acid test with nice big field and good odds. Maybe this year you will need 20 points to get in the derby. Also think Top Billing isn't primed for this one. General a Rod is worth a look. Also leaning Honor Code as my favorite and Cairo Prince as my second choice at this time. Still so early.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Top Billing is not primed for this one? Top Billing and A Rod are the fastest horses in this race. Beyer speed figures are going to make a couple of horses well overbet that are going to get left well up the track.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I think "Just bet Pletcher" is a sound and profitable, albeit boring and chalky strategy this time of year.
joe d More than 1 year ago
thats right!! with the exception of the derby of course. yes i know super saver!! one out of 100.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Super saver mightve been the worst derby winner ever. Horrible winner, just caught a dream trip and a sloppy track to aid him.
Perl More than 1 year ago
You could be right. There have been a number of weak derby horses in recent memory but he might take the cake. Thinking of some other poor winners, Giacomo at least came back to hit the board in the Belmont. Same goes for our most recent weak winner, Orb (and he accomplished more than Super Saver did before the Derby anyhow). Monarchos didn't do much of anything after the Derby, but he was a better horse I'd say, and a decent sire. Grindstone didn't race again, but he was probably better too. Not sure who else I'd throw up there.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Orb never won another start. And the field he beat in foy never won a graded stake ever.Not too high on that list either. Super Saver was legit. His 1/3 brother debuted on grass last week for Mott. He has talent . You will see.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
You STILL beating up on last years derby winner??? Give it up Mark!
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Violence who was 2nd in last years FOY won the G1 CashCall Futurity
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
You did all that off the top of your head and forgot about the worst winner of all time: Mine That Bird
Perl More than 1 year ago
Mine That Bird won the Derby by six lengths. He also hit the board in the other two triple crown races. I didn't forget about him.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Giacomo was a distant 3rd in the Preakness. He was an even more distant 7th in the Belmont.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
While the Derby Trail is fun to follow, I dont give any of them credit until they are racing and winning at 4 and 5 years old. Look at Mucho Macho Man just to use a recent example. He was upset after upset as a 3 year old. He is still knocking heads and winning Graded Stakes at 6. Thats the horse I want in the breeding shed not these 3 year old speedballs that dont make it to the track come June.
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
Can't take your opinion seriously, please tell me you forgot about Mine That Bird.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
You are wrong about Mine that Bird being a bad Derby winner. That horse couldn't have come to the Derby any better under Chip Wooley. It was just damn shame to take him away from him. DWL, a great horseman indeed, but to take MTB from Wooley was a kick in the N--ts..........
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Mine That Bird was 2nd in the Preakness to Rachel Alexandra and a good 3rd in the Belmont. Not too shabby
Perl More than 1 year ago
You're wrong. Mine That Bird had a much better record than Super Saver, as others have noted.
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
Remember "El Senor's" (Sr. Luro) famous quote....."Do not squeeze the lemon dry."
Ann More than 1 year ago
Yet Northern Dancer raced 9 times at 2, and had 5 pre-Derby starts at 3. The lemon must have been bigger in those days.
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
A word of caution fellows............................It's still way too early to come up with the definitive derby favorite. Until they race a mile and an eighth in a G1 or G2 race you really can't predict anything with certainty. We will find out a lot more when each horse is "asked the question" going a distance of ground against whatever the top company is at that moment. Also, there may be an unsung three year old who is just starting to mature/blossom as I write this. Think back not too long ago when Animal Kingdom was hardly a household name at this time of year. How about Mine That Bird who was still trying to find his two year old form at this time a few years ago. In fact he was a beaten 4th in the Sunland Derby. Just don't go anointing anyone just yet. Chances are you will be wrong.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
All that is a bit obvious wouldn't you say Chuck?
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
Obviously not to all the people who already have their Derby horse.
John Burton More than 1 year ago
What Chuck says is true - the winner of the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby might not be in the spotlight yet. ANIMAL KINGDOM is a prime. In the February before he won the Kentucky Derby my intuitive wife said to me - out-of-the blue: "John, this year Graham Motion is going to have a horse in the Kentucky Derby and it will win!" I said, "Women, what are you smokin'? Motion doesn't even have a horse on the road to the roses yet!" Two weeks later ANIMAL KINGDOM wins the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. And the rest is history along with my score of the $1.00 KD Superfecta with ANIMAL KINGDOM solo in the win position ($36.00 bet) for $24,000.00+" -A Horse player's KD Dream come true!
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
The distance argument is overused and I feel absolutely a useless argument altogether. They are horses. They will all travel whatever distance the jockey makes them. The winners just get there faster. Its about pace, speed, trip. I have noticed that the horses that peak in the Feb,March stakes are the ones you can dismiss for May. I look for horses that are a few steps behind their peers right now but improving gradually. When the horse peaks too soon, there is only one way to go, down.
Ann More than 1 year ago
You mean like I'll Have Another? He won the Lewis in February. First off the layoff, too.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Then you must have took it up the yang on horses like Winning Colors , Go For Gin, Thunder Gulch, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Fusaichi Pegasus, Smarty Jones, Barbaro, Street Sense, Big Brown, Animal Kingdom, I'll Have Another & Orb just to mention a few. LOL.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
I said PEAK and a FEW of those that you mentioned didn't hit the "end of the line" on their tenacity early in their respective seasons. Understand what you read before you post something that you thought will make you look wise.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Based on his work tab over the last month, I get the feeling Shug doesn't really have Top Billing fully cranked up for this race. Won't be surprised if TB finishes 2nd/3rd.
joe d More than 1 year ago
if he wins from the 12 post at 1mile-sixteenth at gulf ,hes got a good shot at winning the derby. I got feeling he will be in the derby and honor code will not make it. I have seen this scenario many times.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Apparently Honor Code is back on track...had his first work last week so unless there's another setback he should have a good shot to show what's he's got and make the Derby.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
I believe those easy works are just what TB needs to be cranked up . TB , IMO isn't the type of horse to have big works. This horse shows up when he is out there. I know you know that kind..
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Maybe...I just think it's a little odd that TB has not been given at least one really sharp work. My guess is Shug wouldn't mind finishing 2nd/3rd on Saturday then cranking it up a bit for TBs next start and having him in peak form for the Derby. We'll see
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
So what you are saying is, trainers do not want their horses to earn 5o points in this prep race in order to save something for another prep race? That would mean that they would have to assume the horse can be fortunate enough to earn points beyond this Saturday. Races like this where horses have zeros across the board are all systems GO. It is safe to say that the winner of preps from this point on will be in the Derby. Look at how they were scraping for the final few last year!
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Listen, the goal is to get your colt to peak Kentucky Derby day, not FOY. I think Shug is confident he can earn enough points between the FOY and FL Derby, or wherever, to get a spot in the Derby...20 pts will easily get you in. Now would Shug like to win Sat...of course anyone would, but you have to take care of the horse first.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Im going to say it again, either Top Billing or ARod win this race. The twelfth post wont hurt TB if he gets to the first turn being 3-4 wide and sitting mid pack. He rates like a champ already. I LOVE how Commisioner is favored on the ML. I am playing this race like its the last one on Earth to be played.
Greg More than 1 year ago
They dont mention distance of FOY top notch coverage. Cant believe they re not charging for this!!