Kentucky Derby 2019 Radar: Honor A. P. justifies the hype

October 14, 2019 09:45am
Kentucky Derby 2019 Radar: Honor A. P. justifies the hype
Photo: Benoit

Honor A. P., second by a neck when closing quickly in his six-furlong debut, showed just the type of progression you’d hope to see from an eventual Kentucky Derby contender when stretching out to break his maiden Sunday at Santa Anita Park.

Going a mile and around two turns, the Honor Code colt transformed into a front-runner, clicking off fractions of 23.05, 47.44 and 1:12.52. Returning jockey Mike Smith used a couple “backhanded” taps of the whip, as the chart describes, in going on to finish in 1:37.94.

The final margin was 5 1/4 lengths, and Honor A. P. Appeared to show a burst of acceleration with 1/16 of a mile to go, even under only mild urging. He’s one for the 2020 Kentucky Derby Radar moving into the winter with races like the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) on the calendar.

John Shirreffs trains the $850,000 yearling for C R K Stable, the racing banner for Californians Lee and Susan Searing. In the handicap division, they campaign Draft Pick, while the Shirreffs-trained Express Train is another of their talented juveniles who most recently ran in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1).

Away at 1-2 in the field of nine, Honor A. P. registered a 91 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance. That’s tied for fifth-best for a 2-year-old this season as Dennis’ Moment’s 97 from a maiden-breaking victory at Ellis Park continues to top the chart.

While that’s a noteworthy Beyer, Honor A. P.’s final time was also the fastest of Santa Anita’s meet at the mile distance on a deep dirt track. Down the line, there’s a chance he could show even a bit more brilliance than seen Sunday.

Honor A. P. Is out of the Wild Rush mare Hollywood Story, another Shirreffs trainee and multiple Grade 1 winner in her own right.

“It’s great because I knew her so well, and I see similarities in her offspring,” Shirreffs said earlier this month on Steve Byk’s At the Races radio show. “It’s like part of the family, because you get to know the family and have a little more affinity to them.”

As for Honor A. P., he was already planning for Sunday’s start, looking back at the debut run just behind Ginobili, who has gone on to compete in multiple stakes.

“He came out of the gate, and it looked like he didn’t really know what was going on,” Shirreffs told Byk, with Honor A. P. spotting Ginobili some 12 3/4 lengths early. “You can see when everything clicked in his mind. He changed gears and man, he ran really well — closed super.”

The Los Alamitos Futurity, if indeed selected as Honor A. P.’s next spot, runs at 1 1/6 miles on Saturday, Dec. 7. The race was downgraded this year to the Grade 2 level.


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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