Mr Speaker will get back on turf for the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes
(G3) at Gulfstream Park Saturday. The dark bay colt made a dashing rally
up the fence to win the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (G3) on the sod in
December, but trainer Shug McGaughey opted to experiment with the main
track for the $400,000 Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on January 25.
Though forwardly placed early in that competitive test, the 3-year-old
son of Pulpit didn't find another gear and tired to finish seventh, 10
3/4 lengths behind the romping winner Cairo Prince.
The Phipps Stable homebred will race with Lasix for the first time in
the nine-furlong Palm Beach, and jockey Jose Lezcano will have the
"He wants the grass," McGaughey said. "I took a shot in the Holy
Bull, and he didn't run that bad. I think when (Lezcano) started riding
him, that's when the grass part of him kicked in. So I'm looking forward
to getting him back on the grass on Saturday and, everything being
equal, we'll make our way back to Belmont."
indicated that Mr Speaker would also be considered for the $750,000 Blue
Grass Stakes (G1) on Keeneland's Polytrack on April 12.
"We'll nominate him there, but they've got some awfully good races at
Belmont," McGaughey offered. "Now there's that million-dollar race on
Fourth of July weekend (the $1.25-million Belmont Derby [G1]), and
there's a couple of good 3-year-old races at Saratoga. The Phippses like
to key on Belmont and Saratoga, so I'd like to have a fresh horse for
Also in the McGaughey shedrow is Honor Code, the winter-book favorite
for the Kentucky Derby (G1) who is nearing a return to action. The son
of A.P. Indy worked a half-mile in :52.06 at Gulfstream on
"I'm really happy with him--I think every day is
better than the last," McGaughey offered "I jogged him Wednesday and he
galloped great (Thursday) ."
Honor Code has not faced the starter since edging Cairo Prince in the
Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct in November, and McGaughey suggested
that the sophomore will get back on track in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at
Oaklawn Park on March 15.
"I'm going to work him again over the weekend and will probably put
him in company," McGaughey said. "I'd like to have Javier (Castellano)
come out and do it. I'll make up my mind after that."
McGaughey indicated that he will wait a few weeks before deciding
whether Top Billing will contest the $1-million Besilu Stables Florida
Derby (G1) on March 29. In his stakes debut, the chestnut colt delivered
his usual late-running performance to finish third behind dueling
pacesetters Wildcat Red and General a Rod in the Besilu Stables Fountain
of Youth Stakes (G2) last Saturday.
"He's come out of his race really well," the horseman said. "The
track was quick all week and you could see it was speed-favoring on
Saturday. The Florida Derby is where I would like to run him, but I'm
going to wait and see what the track's like and how he bounces out of
it. I'd prefer to run here."