Laurel Maiden Deserves Top Billing

Curlin Stallion 615 X 400
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. 


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Older Comments about Laurel Maiden Deserves Top Billing...

and MORE than often it is the pace collpsing around them
For a 2y/o competing first time out, I thought the coming steadily from behind and then splitting horses was really impressive. HRTV thought the splitting move was like "an older professional".
Amazing race. This one might be something. You dont see a move like that very often. Circulling the entire field like that .
Sorry got cut off, started on his Derby Trail as a three yr. old.
I remember Majestic Prince started late in his two yr old year with either one or two races and then started out on his Derby Trail in CA.
Sounds like a good one!
Nice article, Brian. I have liked this colt since July, and I do think (with no doubts) he has stakes potential, as I did before the race. You make a good point. For people who don't have the inside information and are on the outside looking in; it might cause some hesitance as it pertains to debuting at Laurel (which is my track where I work, but definitely not a first tier track). I can honestly tell you, there was no shortage of confidence from Shug, the owners, the exercise rider, the jockey and even his groom. I have spoken to all of the aforementioned excluded Shug, who I have never met. Top Billing was not run at Laurel because they didn't think he was good enough. Top Billing has suffered from shin problems (odd how *random* genetics lead to many Curlin babies having shin problems), is huge, and is very fragile. They wanted him to go to a safe track (they considered scratching in slop, but chose not to due to scheduling) and a low-key area. They did not want to scratch because they did not want him to have to attempt to break a maiden in late December or early January. The minority owner specifically told me over the phone that he wants January for an AlwOC race, followed by the graded stakes on the trail to the Kentucky Derby. The way he dropped far behind the pace, rallied strong, split horses, and drew away was magnificent. He looked very professional throughout and Shug conditioned him to perfection. I saw him in his stall this morning. Let me tell you, with all honesty, he is beautiful. He holds him self and conducts himself in such a manner in which he almost comes off as arrogant or cocky. He has *that look* in his eye and walks with a certain swagger that I love in a racehorse. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but he certainly has potential and based on my posts in July and yesterday, you can clearly see I think this guy is the real deal. JMO, of course.
Thanks for the write-up, Brian! Several of us were waiting for this debut, and he did justice to his name!
I was so thrilled with this colt's win first time out, and it instantly reminded me of Honor Code, thanks for the great post Brian, I didn't want to be the only one thinking he was a Stakes class horse after only viewing this maiden win.

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