Top Billing Among 54 Nominees for $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth

December 10, 2019

Commissioner Heads Group of 16 Nominated by Leading Trainer Todd Pletcher Gulfstream Derby Hero General a Rod, Hutcheson Winner Wildcat Red Set to Run

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – William S. Farish and Edward J. Hudson Jr.’s Top Billing is among 54 horses nominated to the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), a major and historic prep for the Kentucky Derby scheduled for Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is aiming to make his second straight trip to the Fountain of Youth winner’s circle after saddling Orb for a victory in last season’s running of the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds. Orb went on to capture the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) and the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1).

McGaughey-trained Honor Code, who became the early favorite for the 2014 Triple Crown after defeating Cairo Prince by a nose in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct in November, was not nominated to the Fountain of Youth due to a setback in his training schedule last month caused by ankle bruising.

Late-developing Top Billing has stepped up during Gulfstream’s Champions Meet in his stablemate’s absence. The son of Curlin, who captured his career debut by more than five lengths at Laurel on Dec. 6, recovered from a wide trip to finish a fast-closing second in a Gulfstream allowance on Dec. 29, a neck behind Commissioner. Top Billing came back on Jan. 25 to close from far back and sweep to victory by nearly three lengths. His running time of 1:42.66 for 1 1/16 miles compared favorably to the 1:42.16 clocking registered by Cairo Prince while winning the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream on the same day.

Cairo Prince was not nominated to the Fountain of Youth by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who had stated his intention to return the son of Pioneerof the Nile to action in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 29.

Commissioner, who got the best of Top Billing in the 1 1/8-mile allowance last month to record his second victory in three starts, heads a group of 16 horses nominated to the Fountain of Youth by trainer Todd Pletcher. WinStar Farm’s son of A.P. Indy finished second in his debut for Gulfstream’s 10-time defending champion trainer before breaking his maiden at Saratoga on Aug. 28 at 1 1/8 miles. Commissioner is being pointed to the Fountain of Youth.

Others nominated by Pletcher include: Intense Holiday, third in the Holy Bull; Havana, Champagne (G1) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up; and We Miss Artie, Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner and Kitten’s Joy runner-up We Miss Artie.

Conquest Titan, who closed from last in an 11-horse field to finish second behind Cairo Prince and ahead of Intense Holiday in the Holy Bull, is nominated to and expected to run in the Fountain of Youth. The Conquest Stables’ son of Birdstone previously was saddled by trainer Mark Casse for an allowance victory at Churchill Downs last fall.

J. Armando Rodriguez’s General a Rod was nominated to the Fountain of Youth by trainer Mike Maker. The son of Roman Ruler finished second behind Conquest Titan in the Churchill allowance before coming back on New Year’s Day to capture the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby.

Honors Stable Corp.’s Wildcat Red, who came in a close second-place behind General a Rod in the Gulfstream Derby, was nominated to the Fountain of Youth by trainer Jose Garoffalo. The Florida-bred son of D’wildcat came back to win the Hutcheson Stakes (G3) going away by nearly five lengths at Gulfstream on Feb. 1. Wildcat Red had previously finished first in his first three races, including a disqualification from a victory in the $125,000 Juvenile Sprint at Gulfstream on Nov. 9.

The Fountain of Youth will anchor a Feb. 22 program that will also include the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) for 3-year-old fillies and the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3).

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