Rocket Fuel
Ultimate 48 Sweepstakes
Please provide a valid email address.
Close

Blog - RACING

Top Billing's victory on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park (above) stamped the talented 3-year-old "one to watch" on the Kentucky Derby trail. (Photo courtesy of Coglianese Photos/Gulfstream Park)

Below is a capsule look at three horses who are heating up on the Triple Crown trail and three horses whose Derby chances are not quite as strong as they were a week ago.

Heating Up

1. Top Billing

Top -Billing -head

Coglianese/Gulfstream Park

Top Billing paired his top Equibase Speed Figure (100) with a dominant allowance win on the Holy Bull Stakes undercard and reportedly came out of the race feeling great. By two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of a multiple graded stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare, Top Billing is bred to run all day. Throw Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey into the mix and you’ve got a potentially elite talent coming into his own in January of his 3-year-old season. He has not competed in a stakes race yet, so that will be a big hurdle but one I’m willing to wager he passes easily.

2. Conquest Titan

Top Billing

Eclipse Sportswire

Another colt bred to run all day. Conquest Titan is by 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone out of Miner’s Secret, who is by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft. I really liked him entering the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull Stakes but thought he might be compromised by an outside post with a very short run into the first turn as well as a dirt main track that usually rewards early speed. Conquest Titan dropped way back in the Holy Bull – last of 11 through the first half-mile – before rallying powerfully to finish second to well-regarded Cairo Prince. Pair that with an eye-opening win on the main track at Churchill Downs – the site of the Kentucky Derby – to close his 2-year-old season and you have an early contender for the Derby “Wise-Guy Horse”.

3. Cairo Prince

Cairo Prince -Eclipse

Eclipse Sportswire

He could have very easily been on top of this list, but I think we already knew that this was a very nice colt. Cairo Prince just confirmed it in the Holy Bull with a runaway victory. His Remsen Stakes runner-up finish to Honor Code, another elite member of the division, was so strange because the early pace was incredibly slow that it was tough to gauge the top two. I think we can now safely say that both Cairo Prince and Honor Code rank among the best in the 3-year-old division, at least in January. 

red white blue Bar

Cooling Off

1. Coup de Grace

New Coup

Coglianese/Gulfstream Park

This talented colt led through the first half-mile of the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes before fading to finish 10th in the 11-horse field. After the race, owner Rick Porter said the Tapit colt would go back to sprinting after winning his first two races impressively at six furlongs and one mile. The future remains bright for Coup de Grace but for now he is off the Triple Crown trail.

2. Mr Speaker

Mr Speaker Coglinese Small

Coglianese/Gulfstream Park

By Pulpit out of a Grade 2-placed granddaughter of the great Personal Ensign, Mr Speaker boasts one of the finest pedigrees of his class. A Grade 3 winner on the grass, Mr Speaker tried the main track for the first time in the Holy Bull and faded to seventh after he was close to the pace early. It looks like the plan is to return Mr. Speaker to the grass, where he should continue to excel. We might even see him again in one of the Kentucky Derby prep races held on synthetic surfaces like the Spiral Stakes or Blue Grass Stakes. Who Knows? Trainers often say the Churchill main track is quite kind to turf horses …

3. Stars of 2013

Shared Belief Thumb

Eclipse Sportswire

It has not been a great start to the year for 2013 Eclipse Awards finalists from the 2-year-old male division. Champion Shared Belief missed a couple of workouts because of a minor hoof injury, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day was retired, and Juvenile runner-up Havana is behind schedule and targeting the 7-furlong Swale Stakes on March 1 for his debut. It also was reported on Wednesday that Remsen Stakes winner Honor Code encountered a minor setback in training and was being rerouted to a different race for his season debut. It’s nowhere near time to lose faith in Shared Belief, Havana or Honor Code, but any missed preparation time on the Kentucky Derby trail is at least a cause for concern. Let’s hope Shared Belief, Havana and Honor Code make an appearance later this season on the list above of horses heating up.

red white blue Bar

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Sponsors & Partners

  • FoxSports1
  • NBC Sports
  • Logo 6
  • Saratoga
  • Santa Anita
  • CBS Sports
  • Monmouth
  • Keeneland
  • Gulfstream Park
  • Del Mar
  • Belmont Park
  • Arlington Park
  • OwnerView