Top Billing

Top Billing

Coglianese Photos

Top Billing Works Toward Fountain of Youth

Trainer Mark Casse said Conquest Titan would make his next start in Florida Derby.

Top Billing breezed a half-mile in :50 2/5 Feb. 17 at Payson Park in Indiantown, Fla., in preparation for his stakes debut in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.

The homebred son of Curlin  trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for owners William S. Farish and E. J. Hudson Jr., worked in company with stablemate Peter Island as he went through his final major work for the Feb. 22 race that is a traditional prep for the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I).

"He's coming along; he's getting more in tune with what we want him to do," said McGaughey, who saddled Orb  to win the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby en route to victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). "He used to work on a long rein, but now he gets more into it. I think we're right on schedule. Everyone seemed to be pleased."

Top Billing broke his maiden in his career debut at Laurel Park last Dec. 6, followed by a second and a win in allowance/optional claiming company at Gulfstream.

Meanwhile, trainer Mark Casse said Conquest Titan, a late-running second to Cairo Prince  in the Miller Lite Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, would bypass the Fountain of Youth and make his next start in the March 29 Florida Derby.

"We're going to pass on it," Casse said of Saturday's race. "His last race, he came out of it good but I thought he lost a few pounds. He worked really well last week and he trained great this morning, but we can't make all the dances. We're just going to wait for the Florida Derby.

"He's not a big horse, anyway. He's just kind of an average-sized horse, and the Fountain of Youth is going to come up tough. We're always at a disadvantage with him going a mile and a sixteenth, especially with a speed-favoring track."

Owned by Ernie Semersky's Conquest Stable, the son of Birdstone  won the Swynford Stakes over the Polytrack at Woodbine last August and also won a one-mile Churchill Downs allowance race Nov. 30. Casse schooled Conquest Titan in the Gulfstream paddock on Feb. 7. He has two wins from six starts.

"We shipped him all the way down to Gulfstream and schooled him, and he got a little nervous and hot, and I wanted him to relax a little bit," Casse said of the colt based at Palm Meadows. "That was probably the biggest factor. I just want him to relax a little bit more than what he's doing."