Commissioner Preparing for Fountain of Youth
Todd Pletcher-conditioned Commissioner is training forwardly for his scheduled stakes debut in the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 22.
"We're very pleased with him," Pletcher said. "Physically, he's in great order. He holds his weight well. He's a very easy horse to train."
The 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy is scheduled to breeze at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training center in Boynton Beach, Fla. Sunday, Feb. 16 in preparation for the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, a prep race for the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29. It will be his fourth breeze since his sensational 2014 debut.
The WinStar Farm homebred colt, who opened his career with a second-place finish at Monmouth Park and a 1 1/8-mile maiden win at Saratoga Race Course last summer, came back from a long layoff to again prevail at the 1 1/8-mile distance Jan. 3 at Gulfstream. Commissioner stalked the pace in that allowance/optional claiming race before taking over the lead in the stretch and holding off Top Billing by a neck. The Shug McGaughey-trained Top Billing came back to register an eye-catching last-to-first allowance win Jan. 29.
"For him to win a mile-and-an-eighth race off a layoff against a top-quality field and Top Billing coming back to win impressively really flatters the race," said Pletcher, who teamed with WinStar Farm for a Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) win in 2010 with Super Saver .
Meanwhile, trainer Shug McGaughey issued an upbeat bulletin Thursday about his high-profile sophomores Honor Code and Top Billing. Honor Code, the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) winner who missed some time with a hind ankle problem, got back on the worktab at Gulfstream Park Feb. 12 with a three-furlong move in :35.66 over a fast main track.
"He breezed very well; I was very pleased with him," McGaughey said. "He seemed to come out of it very well. I jogged him this morning just to make sure and it seemed like he was none the worse for the wear, so, hopefully, all systems are go."
A son of A.P. Indy, Honor Code defeated Cairo Prince in the Remsen at Aqueduct Nov. 30 and was the shortest-priced individual betting interest in the recently concluded Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2, closing at 12-1. McGaughey, who enjoyed a trouble-free winter last season with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Orb , has yet to finalize plans for Honor Code's return to action.
"I think the Gotham (at Aqueduct on March 1) in New York would be too soon," McGaughey noted. "Two weeks after that is the Rebel (gr. II at Oaklawn Park March 15), and I think that would be one I could probably make."
The Hall of Fame conditioner was philosophical about the possibility of a race for Honor Code in the next condition book at Gulfstream.
"It would be difficult," McGaughey explained. "You've got the Fountain of Youth and then you've got the Swale (March 1) coming up and the Florida Derby, so I think it would be difficult for a race like that to go. It would be nice, but I'm not going to depend on something like that."
McGaughey swept the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby last season with Orb, and Top Billing will be his representative next weekend in the Fountain of Youth. The Curlin colt blew past his rivals in a Jan. 25 entry-level allowance at Gulfstream, and recorded a half-mile move in :49.30 Feb. 8 at Payson Park.
"He's doing very well," McGaughey said. "He breezed last Saturday and I thought he breezed great. He was going to the gate today, just stand and back out. We'll two-minute lick him maybe Friday or Saturday and breeze him on Monday."
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