Mr Speaker
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Mr Speaker
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Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Mr Speaker, Cairo Prince Post Holy Bull Works

Almost Famous also in action at Palm Meadows in preparation for Jan. 25 test.

Dania Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) winner Mr Speaker  breezed a half-mile at Payson Park the morning of Jan. 19 in preparation for a scheduled start in the upcoming $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.

Also turning in their final drills Sunday for the Jan. 25 Holy Bull were Cairo Prince  and Almost Famous, both at Palm Meadows Training Center.

"He worked in :49 2/5 (:49.20 officially) and worked great," trainer Shug McGaughey said of Mr. Speaker, a Phipps Stable homebred by Pulpit out of the multiple graded stakes-placed mare Salute, by Unbridled. It was the third quickest of 16 at the distance on the morning at Payson.

Mr Speaker is to 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 Park. His subsequent victory came in his stakes debut in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream Dec. 21, a one-mile test he won by 2 3/4 lengths at odds of 10-1.

"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 colt would handle kickback.

"He handled it fine. I just wanted to see how he'd handle the dirt, and he handled it fine," the Holl of Fame trainer said.

McGaughey has scheduled a work for Top Billing, a lightly raced 3-year-old son of Curlin , at Payson Park Jan. 20. Top Billing broke his maiden at first asking at Laurel Park in December. He came back recently in a Gulfstream allowance, closing with a rush to finish second behind highly-regarded Commissioner  by a neck.

Meanwhile, Honor Code , the most accomplished McGaughey-trained 3-year-old, galloped Sunday morning at Payson after breezing three furlongs in :38.10 a day earlier.

"I think everything is in good shape," said McGaughey, who is pointing the son of A.P. Indy to the $400,000 Besilu Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream Feb. 22.

Honor Code concluded his 2-year-old campaign with a nose win in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 30. He subsequently underwent surgery to remove an undescended testicle.

At Palm Meadows, Kiaran McLaughlin trainee Cairo Prince tuned up for the Holy Bull with a sharp half-mile breeze at Palm Meadows in :48.40, seventh fastest at 52 at the distance 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 Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct before being nosed out by Honor Code in the Remsen. The gray/roan son of Pioneerof the Nile  out of the Holy Bull mare Holy Bubbette is owned by Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke, and Craig W. Robertson III.

Almost Famous, trained by Patrick Byrne for Chuck and Maribeth Sandford, also breezed a half-mile in :48.40 at Palm Meadows.

"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. The Holy Bull would be the first graded stakes appearance for the dark bay colt by Unbridled's Song out of the multiple graded stakes winner Wild Gams, by Forest Wildcat,

"I just put some blinkers on him, just to keep him focused a little, and it worked," said Byrne, whose colt rebounded from a fourth-place 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 Coup de Grace, a bullet half-mile in :47.40, and Intense Holiday, an easy half in :49.05 for trainer Todd Pletcher.