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Mr Speaker Set for Dirt Debut in Holy Bull

Dania Beach Stakes winner Mr Speaker breezed a half-mile at Payson Park Sunday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in next Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.           

“He worked in :49 2/5 and worked great,” trainer Shug McGaughey said.           

Mr Speaker is set to make his 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 and his subsequent victory in his stakes debut in the Dania Beach (G3) at Gulfstream on Dec. 21.           

The son of Pulpit is out of Salute, a daughter of undefeated champion Personal Ensign.           

“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 Phipps Stable’s homebred colt would handle kickback.           

“He handled it fine. I just wanted to see how he’d handle the dirt, and he handled it fine,” McGaughey said.            

McGaughey has scheduled a work for Top Billing, a lightly raced 3-year-old son of Curlin, at Payson Park on Monday.          

Top Billing broke his maiden at first asking at Laurel in December before coming back a month later in a Gulfstream allowance, in which he closed with a rush to finished second behind highly regarded Commissioner by a neck.            

Honor Code, the most accomplished McGaughey-trained 3-year-old, galloped Sunday morning at Payson after breezing three furlongs in 38.10 seconds Saturday morning.          

“I think everything is in good shape,” said McGaughey, who is pointing the son of A.P. Indy to the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream on Feb. 22.           

Honor Code concluded his 2-year-old campaign with a nose win in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 30. He subsequently underwent surgery to remove an undescended testicle.  


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