Photo: Lane's End
Honor Code rallied from 22 3/4 lengths back after a half mile to win his career debut, going away, in a Saratoga Maiden Special Weight event at seven furlongs. The eventual second-place finisher, the Pletcher-trained Misconnect, returned to break his maiden on the Super Saturday undercard at Belmont Park.
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Here is a replay of Honor Code's visually remarkable debut win:
Don't miss this blog on Thursday, when we will preview Honor Code's stakes debut in the Champagne as well as stakes action at Keeneland. Now let's shift the focus of this post back to the great stallion A.P. Indy.
Ever since his offspring first started hitting the racetrack, A.P. Indy has unquestionably been the most outstanding stallion in North America.
His offspring first debuted in 1996. Since that time, they have amassed over $107 million in North American earnings. Smart Strike is his closest pursuer over that time period, and his offspring trail by more than $15 million.
Perhaps more impressively, A.P. Indy has sired 103 different graded stakes winners in North America. Storm Cat is his closest pursuer in that respect, with 86 different graded stakes winners sired during that time period.
After digesting those facts, you might find it impossible to believe what I'm about to tell you:
No horse sired by A.P. Indy has ever won a race of any kind at six furlongs or less at either Saratoga or Del Mar.
I first shared this fact with a friend, NYRA TV analyst Andy Serling, during the 2006 Saratoga meet. Ever since, whenever an A.P. Indy offspring has started at six furlongs or less at Saratoga, Andy has referred to this fact, on the air, as "The A.P. Indy curse."
Curious parties have asked how many A.P. Indy offspring have started at six furlongs or less at Saratoga or Del Mar. The answer is 91.
They are 0-for-67 at Saratoga. Remarkably, in 19 instances, the horse went off at odds of 5/2 or less.
At Del Mar, A.P. Indy offspring are 0-for-24 in races at six furlongs or less.
So the "A.P. Indy curse" equals an 0-for-91 stat, with his offspring burning up enough money to fill the Grand Canyon with ashes. (Logically enough, these horses usually improve markedly when stretched out in distance in the start following that sprint.) *
Anyone who remembers watching A.P. Indy race will tell you that he had an unusual running style. He kept his head extremely low to the ground, and he possessed a very long, sustained run. He was not an especially quick-footed or tactical horse.
When A.P. Indy himself debuted, going six furlongs at Del Mar, he broke cleanly, but was never involved at any stage and finished a well beaten fourth as the 2/1 favorite in a field of just seven. He never raced at six furlongs or less again, and won his next seven starts, the win streak culminating with a victory in the Belmont Stakes.
A.P. Indy has sired 17 different millionaires. They are a combined 1-for-14 lifetime in races at six furlongs or less. The lone win came from Take Charge Indy in a six furlong maiden race at Arlington Park.
Bernardini was a well beaten fourth in his debut at six furlongs at Gulfstream Park. However, by just his fourth career start, he was a dominant winner of the Preakness. Rags to Riches was a soundly beaten fourth in an early season two-year-old dash at Churchill Downs. She was a Grade 1 winner by just her third career start and would later become the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in 102 years.
Not only has A.P. Indy been a sensational stallion, he's been a pretty darn good broodmare sire and sire of sires, too.
On this year's Super Saturday card at Belmont Park, the Beldame winner, Princess of Sylmar (by Majestic Warrior), and Jockey Club Gold Cup hero Ron The Greek (by Full Mandate) are both sired by sons of A.P. Indy.
On last year's Super Saturday card at Belmont, the Beldame winner, Royal Delta (out of Delta Princess), and Jockey Club Gold Cup hero Flat Out (by Flatter) both had A.P. Indy as either their grandsire or broodmare sire.
A.P. Indy is also the grandsire of this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, and the broodmare sire of 2010 Derby winner Super Saver.
Still, for all of A.P. Indy's amazing achievements as a stallion, he's never sired a Kentucky Derby winner. He has just this one fairly small crop of two-year-olds remaining. That gives him one last glimmer of hope--a glimmer made less faint by the presence of Honor Code.
*For context: A.P. Indy offspring are 176 for 1,372 at all tracks at distances of six furlongs or less: 12.8% wins. They're 1,519 wins from 8,418 starts in route races: 18% wins