At age 2, being on the Honor Code bandwagon was all the rage. His last to first maiden breaking debut
had the industry buzzing. When he lost by a neck to Havana in the Grade 1
Champagne Stakes in just his second career start, again rallying from dead last,
there was no doubt in most people’s minds who the better colt was that day. Add
in a gritty nose win over Cairo Prince in the Grade 2 Remsen in his third
career start, and a star was born. It truly was an injustice to the handsome
son of A.P. Indy that he was not even named a finalist for Champion Two-Year
Old simply because he did not ship west for the Breeders’ Cup.
Heading into the New Year, Honor Code was the golden child,
the early Kentucky Derby favorite. After his dazzling display of heart in New
York, people were clamoring to see him make his 2014 debut. Thanks to an untimely
injury that kept that kept him off the worktab for quite some time, fans had to
wait until today in Race 8 at Gulfstream Park to see the early Kentucky Derby favorite make his much
anticipated season bow.
Second betting choice Social Inclusion got the jump on the small field of five and was immediately sent
to the lead. With no one to pressure him in the slightest, the bay Pioneerof
the Nile colt showed the way, setting a more than comfortable pace. He clicked
off the first quarter in 24.32 and quickened only slightly to get the half in
47.52. Meanwhile, Honor Code tracked the pace from fourth before splitting
rivals and moving up into second to give chase to the leader.
The effort was too little, too late as Social Inclusion was
already loose on the lead. Pulling away at will into the far turn, Social
Inclusion ended up crossing under the wire clear by 10 lengths. Honor Code
finished up 15 lengths in front of third place finisher We’re All Set, and it
was another 14 ¼ lengths back to fourth place finisher Specialnightaction. Ta
Bueno completed the order of finish. Social Inclusion completed the 8.5 furlong
allowance race in 1:40.97, shaving three-hundredths of a second off the track
record set by Devil’s Cave earlier in the meet.
“I knew how the race was going to set up. (Social Inclusion)
had speed and he had two 35 (second works) since he ran, so I knew he would go…I’m
disappointed he (Honor Code) didn’t win, but we got a race into him and I don’t
think (jockey Javier Castellano) killed him by any means. We’ll see if he goes
forward off of this. I think the horse that won is a very, very special horse,”
trainer Shug McGaughey said after the race.
Jockey Javier Castellano gave Honor Code a vote of confidence
after the race, brushing off the loss saying, “The track had been playing
pretty fast. It’s hard to catch up to the horses that go out on the lead. With
a small field, sometimes it’s hard with my horse’s style, he likes to come from
behind. I had to use him a little bit to be tactical and he responded. I’m very
fortunate with the way he did it today. It was a good performance.
Unfortunately we got beat. But I like to look at the big picture—his season is
just starting and I’m pleased with the way he came back.”
Honor Code lost nothing in defeat today. Typically a come from behind type of runner, Honor Code was asked to lay closer to the pace today in the attempt to not get out-sprinted too badly. Social Inclusion got an easy lead, and we all know that when pace horses aren’t pressured early, they can do a ton of damage in the stretch by having plenty left to give. Social Inclusion is no slouch and has the pedigree to prove it. Furthermore, Honor Code ran second to a track record setting performance. Granted, track records at Gulfstream have been falling like rain this meet, but that should not take away from the fact that Social Inclusion easily set that record. Shug McGaughey knows what he’s doing, and he knew his charge needed a race under his belt after the missed training time. The Honor Code we saw today is not Honor Code at his best, and he’ll need his best later, not today, in order to make it into the starting gate in Kentucky.