Photo: Lane's End
Have I told you about a two-year-colt from the Shug McGaughey barn who struggled through the opening furlongs on a sloppy track, only to pick ‘em up and lay ‘em all down on the turn, and through the stretch, with devastating ease in his career debut? Sure I have. Here’s the catch, though, this time I am not talking about Honor Code. It may not have been summer at Saratoga, but Top Billing’s debut this afternoon in Maryland was eerily reminiscent of the maiden breaker for the current Kentucky Derby favorite.
Top Billing, favored at 9-5, and racing sans Lasix in the second race today at Laurel Park, was squeezed a few times in the first furlong under rider, Alex Cintron, and dropped back some 15 lengths in the six furlong maiden special weight. Heading into the far turn, Cintron asked the inexperienced colt for something, and the response was immediate and powerful. The pair made their move, and started gaining on the main group of horses like a shot. By the time the mud splashed field came spinning out of the turn, Top Billing was in striking distance and gaining with every stride.
It soon became just a matter of where the race favorite would find room to get past the wall of leaders. After a brief changing of path, Cintron found room for the chestnut colt right through the middle, and by the eighth pole, Top Billing was powering to the lead. The final margin was just over five lengths, but the way he powered home could not have been much more impressive. Making the eye-catching performance all the more interesting is a quick peek into the bloodlines of Top Billing.
A son of the exciting young Lane’s End sire, and two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin, Top Billing also comes from a strong female family. The William Farish and E J Hudson Jr. homebred is out of the A.P Indy mare, Parade Queen. A multiple graded stakes winner herself, Parade Queen is the dam of Untouched Talent, also a graded stakes winner, and the dam of Bodemeister.
Obviously, a December maiden at Laurel is a far cry away from the big time, but this colt definitely has the breeding and connections to be legit. Judging from today’s performance, it shouldn’t be long before this one moves into stakes company. Top Billing is certainly a colt worth watching.