03/08/2014 11:00AM

Top Billing injured in workout, will miss Kentucky Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Top Billing will have surgery in Kentucky to repair his cracked right front cannon bone.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Top Billing is off the Kentucky Derby trail after suffering a cracked cannon bone in his right front leg during a routine half-mile workout Saturday morning at Payson Park.

According to trainer Shug McGaughey, Top Billing had completed his work and was walking back to the barn when he detected the 3-year-old was not travelling well.

“He worked fine and galloped out nicely but you could see he was not comfortable on the way back to the barn,” said McGaughey. “He’ll be sent immediately to Dr. [Larry] Bramlage  and undergo surgery either Sunday or early Monday. The long term prognosis is a good one.”   

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

Top Billing, a son of Curlin, won two of his first three starts, including an allowance race in impressive fashion here earlier this winter. In his most recent outing, Top Billing finished third behind Wildcat Red and General a Rod in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. McGaughey said Friday that he was pointing Top Billing to the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 29.

Honor Code to make 3-year-old debut Wednesday

McGaughey’s other top Kentucky Derby prospect, Honor Code, is slated to launch his 3-year-old campaign in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race here Wednesday. Honor Code had a minor setback of his own earlier this winter that cost him 10 days of training but has been working forwardly for his return since being transferred from Payson to Gulfstream Park in late January.

McGaughey had originally planned on bringing Honor Code back in the Grade 2 Rebel next Saturday at Oaklawn. But P.J. Campo, vice president of racing for the Stronach Group, approached McGaughey and asked if he’d be willing to keep Honor Code in Florida if he could fill a two-turn allowance race for him next week.

“The biggest factor in the decision to remain here for the allowance race and not go in the Rebel is that we don’t have to ship,” said McGaughey, who won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb.

McGaughey had originally been eyeing the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 5 for Honor Code’s final Kentucky Derby prep. But with Top Billing now out of the race, McGaughey left the door open that Honor Code could possibly remain here for the Florida Derby, depending upon his performance on Wednesday.