Photo by Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher
Top Billing, a major contender along the 2014 Kentucky Derby trail before being sidelined with an injury, will give turf a try for the first time in an August 22nd allowance race at Saratoga.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, the son of Curlin has had a disappointing season thus far this year, placing fourth in a pair of allowance races, fourth in the Pimlico Special Stakes (gr. III), and second in an allowance race at Keeneland. He has shown flashes of the talent he displayed in 2014–in the Keeneland allowance race, he was beaten just a nose by future Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) winner Noble Bird–and according to the Saratoga Race Course Notes for August 20th, McGaughey is hoping that the switch to turf will help revive Top Billing’s career:
“I wasn’t getting anywhere with him on the dirt, except for the one race at Keeneland,” said McGaughey. “I worked him on the turf back at Belmont, he seemed to go good. He wants to go the distance, so that’s the thinking behind it – sort of change things up a little bit. He looks good, breezed well on the turf here so we’ll just keep our fingers crossed and see how he does and go from there.”
Top Billing will face eight rivals in Saturday’s allowance race, which will be held at 9.5 furlongs. Chad Brown’s Market Outlook is the morning line favorite at 5-2 based on an allowance victory at Aqueduct two starts back, with Todd Pletcher’s Zambian Dream–making his second start in the U.S.–the second choice at 7-2. Top Billing is the fourth choice on the morning line at 5-1.
The complete entries are as follows:
1 Market Outlook, Irad Ortiz Jr., Chad Brown
2 Smooth Daddy, Junior Alvarado, Tom Albertrani
3 Zambian Dream, Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher
4 Shock Leader, Manuel Franco, N. Esler
5 Top Billing, John Velazquez, Shug McGaughey
6 Tattenham, Jose Ortiz, Leah Gyarmati
7 Film Making, Jose Lezcano, Mark Hennig
8 Perfect Title, Kendrick Carmouche, J. Lawrence II
9 Taghleeb, Luis Saez, Kiaran McLaughlin