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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

It’s all Honor Code now

 

With the unfortunate news that Top Billing has been injured and is off the 2014 Kentucky Derby trail, Shug McGaughey’s two-headed monster, has now been reduced to one. The reigning Kentucky Derby winning trainer still may hold an ace in the hole in Honor Code, the top candidate for the Derby in the estimation of many experts at the changing of the year, but we still have not seen him enter a starting gate in 2014.


All that will change on Wednesday afternoon, when Honor Code takes to the Gulfstream Park track to run in the day’s 8th race, a 1 1/16 mile allowance event. This race choice seems to be a late decision, as it was expected that Honor Code would make his seasonal debut in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. It is not the first time that the veteran conditioner has called an audible with the handsome son of A.P. Indy


Remember last year, McGaughey said no thank you to a trip out to la-la land for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, to instead end the season with a run in the nine furlong Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. It was an unorthodox move for a horse that undoubtedly would have been the race favorite, but one that I respected, given McGaughey believing he was doing what was best for a horse he believed was prime Kentucky Derby-Preakness-Belmont Stakes material. He won the Remsen with a late surge over Cairo Prince, so things were looking good for Honor Code.


The best laid plans often find a bump in the road, and so it was for the early Kentucky Derby favorite. A minor injury kept him off the worktab, and delayed the beginning of his highly anticipated three-year-old season. McGaughey had to change plans and wait for his horse to tell him that he was ready to run. Recent workouts have been good, so his trainer has given the all systems go signal once again. We thought that signal was for the Rebel, but now we know differently.


The move to run in this allowance race instead of the Rebel leads me to believe that McGaughey wants Honor Code to come back 2 ½ weeks later for the Florida Derby. It is a race he utilized last year with great success, as Orb won Gulfstream’s biggest race, before winning the big one at Churchill Downs. So it should come as no surprise that Shug has a good feeling inside for this particular path to Louisville, and with Top Billing unable to run, it’s all Honor Code now. First things first, though, and before we can get excited about seeing the Remsen winner in the Florida Derby, there is the small matter of Wednesday’s allowance race.


Among Honor Code's rivals in the allowance test is an undefeated colt breaking from the rail. He’s only had one lifetime start, but Social Inclusion, a son of Pioneerof The Nile, blitzed a maiden field by 7 ½ lengths in his career debut, while running just a tick over 1:09 for the six furlongs. It’s now a big step up to the likes of Honor Code, but Social Inclusion possesses the kind of speed that is generally lethal at Gulfstream. Honor Code may now stand alone for Shug McGaughey’s quest for back-to-back Kentucky Derby wins, but I expect he will have his hands full come Wednesday. 

 

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Older Comments about It’s all Honor Code now...

EJ, did you feel this way about the horse19 hours ago when you probably never even heard of him?
Social Inclusion not just took advantage the speed guys. He broke the track record easily. We have a potential triple crown winner this year
When a horse of this caliber of a race wins by 10 who is the best horse ??? Dahhhhhh
He just isn't there yet. And he might never be. So many other super talented, healthy horses on the Derby trail - I just can't get behind him right now.
what happen to honor code today?
did what he had to do but 2nd by about 8 in a very fast time
I think social inclusion will do it w t w. But Honor Code will be lethal in the big races for his run style to me right now his 4/5 gor the derby
sorry don't think they are going to use him up just to get the win. shug seems to be very big on "education"
agreed tom. i would love for him to win tomorrow but i don
Across the Board,Shug called the audible not to run in the Rebel for one reason. In no way is this horse ready in fitness to take on such a job. The pace scenerio would kill him. On Wed. Shug would love to win the race,but this is not his target race. He will want Javi to just settle the horse, and then make sure he gets him in the clear to make the 1 run. His main concerns are health first and foremost and then to finish up strong. This will set him up for the Wood. In the Wood the horse will at least be tight enough to compete.For them to bring him back,the Wood is not their objective. This truly is a Derby or bust racehorse. If he lases the Derby and comes out in fine shape.Then they go for the Belmont Stakes.
Social Inclusion won on a very slicked up track FOY day - I do worry that they calle the audible for this spot, but I'm no one to question Shug
I don't know about the coming back in 2 1/2 weeks for the Florida Derby though. Wouldn't it be better to get 3 1/2 weeks and then run on a track he's already won on that's not so speed favoring? I guess Shug knows what he's doing though.
I think I know enough about him and he won't have a problem Wednesday.
Mr. Speaker still lingers as a Blue Grass possibility.
honor code in a BIG way Wednesday
Don't know enough about the colt to have an opinion one way or the other.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.