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Top Billing off classic trail with cracked cannon bone
Top Billing, one of the most celebrated prospects for the $1 million Florida Derby and Triple Crown, sustained an injury during a workout at Payson Park Saturday morning that has knocked the Shug McGaughey-trained colt off the Triple Crown Trail.
It was determined the son of Curlin sustained a cracked cannon bone in his right front leg.
"We saw it after he pulled up from the breeze this morning," McGaughey said. "We took him back to the barn, we x-rayed it and found it."
McGaughey said the long-term prognosis is good.
"He's going to Kentucky today. Hopefully he'll get operated on tomorrow afternoon or first thing Monday morning," McGaughey said.
Top Billing had run three times at Gulfstream Park, finishing second in an entry-level allowance on January 3 before capturing a race at the same level on January 25 and finishing third in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth.
McGaughey still has a Triple Crown prospect in his stable in Honor Code, who is scheduled to make his 2014 debut in Wednesday's 8TH race at Gulfstream. The son of A.P. Indy has been installed as the 3-5 favorite over four rivals in the $75,000 open allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Javier Castellano, who rode him to victory in the Remsen at Aqueduct in his 2013 finale, has the return mount.
Honor Code's training this winter was set back by bruised hind ankles, but he has a solid series of four workouts since being transferred from Payson Park to Gulfstream.
"I'm just looking for him to run a decent race," McGaughey said. "I'd like him to win, but if he doesn't, we'd like to see something to push on with."
Honor Code has been expected to be pointed to the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 5, but Top Billing's injury could bring the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 29 into McGaughey's plans, depending on his performance on Wednesday.
"It's a good possibility," said McGaughey, who has scheduled Honor Code to breeze three furlongs at Gulfstream Sunday morning.