Top Billing exited his third-place finish in Saturday's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park in good order, according to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
Making his stakes debut in the 8 1/2-furlong event, the chestnut colt was last early, but put in a sustained rally to complete the trifecta, two lengths behind the dueling Wildcat Red and General a Rod. He was previously an impressive allowance winner at Gulfstream, and could make a fourth local appearance in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
"He came out of the race well," McGaughey said.
"The track was playing to speed and those two horses were out there and didn't stop. We just didn't get to them, going a mile and a sixteenth with a short run to the pole.
"I'm never happy when we don't win, but I wasn't disappointed in his effort. We'd like to run in the Florida Derby, but it's a little early, so we'll just have to wait and see."
The Florida Derby is expected to attract Wildcat Red and General a Rod, as well as the top two from the January 25 Holy Bull -- 5 3/4-length romper Cairo Prince and late-closing second Conquest Titan, who both skipped the Fountain of Youth.