Top Billing, one of the leading prospects for the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby sustained an injury during a workout at Payson Park the morning of March 8 that has knocked him off the Triple Crown trail.
It was determined the son of Curlin cracked the cannon bone in his right front during his first breeze since running third in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said.
"We saw it after he pulled up from the breeze this morning," McGaughey reported. "We took him back to the barn, we x-rayed it and found it."
McGaughey said the longterm prognosis is good for Top Billing, who races for William S. Farish and E.J. Hudson, Jr.
"He's going to Kentucky today. Hopefully he'll get operated on tomorrow afternoon or first thing Monday morning [March 10]," McGaughey said.
Top Billing had run three times at Gulfstream Park, finishing second in an entry-level allowance Jan. 3 before capturing an optional claiming allowance race Jan. 25. The Fountain of Youth was his stakes debut.
McGaughey still has a Triple Crown prospect in his stable in Honor Code, scheduled to make his 2014 debut March 12 in the eighth race at Gulfstream. The 3-year-old 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 in Indiantown, Fla., 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 Racetrack April 5. Top Billing's injury could bring the Florida Derby at Gulfstream March 29 into McGaughey's plans, depending on his performance in this upcoming start.
"It's a good possibility," said McGaughey, who has scheduled Honor Code to breeze three furlongs at Gulfstream March 9.