Honor Code didn't, but Code of Honor going to Breeders' Cup

October 16, 2018 08:49am
Honor Code didn't, but Code of Honor going to Breeders' Cup
Photo: Courtesy of the NYRA

Five years ago, trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Will Farish made the difficult decision of skipping the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with their talented young runner, Honor Code. This year, they face a very similar decision with another talented 2-year-old. His name is Code of Honor.

Citing the long trip to California and a speed-conducive racetrack as the reasons for staying home, connections kept the late-running son of A.P. Indy in his stall as the most important race for juvenile colts of 2013 was run. While disappointing to some, the decision made sense. After all, Honor Code had made only two career starts, and Santa Anita was often a track that did not play kindly to horses with little early speed.

You can't help but wonder, though, if the pair had any second thoughts as they watched
New Year's Day come from well off the pace to roll home an impressive winner out at Santa Anita while, you guessed it, making only his third career start. Although in fairness to the McGaughey and Farish decision, New Year's Day was a California-based colt who needed no shipping to participate in the World Championships.

Things worked out for Honor Code in the long run. He won an excellent edition of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes later that month and, despite losing much of his sophomore season to physical issues, he became a champion in 2015 as America's top Older Male Dirt Horse.

Winning races like the Met Mile at the age of 4 made the decision to skip the Breeders' Cup Juvenile a distant memory. That is, until now -- Enter Code of Honor.

If the form, not to mention the name and the connections, seem all too familiar, you are not imagining things. So far there has been a sharp maiden win at Saratoga, followed up by a rallying, runner-up performance in the Grade 1
Champagne. That is where the past performances currently stand for Code of Honor, and that is exactly where Honor Code was at this stage of career. 

So once again it is decision time for McGaughey and Farish. This time around, they appear bound to make the trip to run a bit closer to home at Churchill Downs and at a track that also generally allows for more rally. Of course, despite all of their similarities, Honor Code and Code of Honor are very different horses.

While Honor Code was already a confirmed late runner after only two starts, it appears that his counterpart has at least a little more tactical ability. Whereas the Eclipse Award winner of 2015 needed a big stretch run to kick home in his debut performance at the Spa, Code of Honor made things a little simpler in his unveiling.

On August 18, the Farish homebred son of
Noble Mission, out of the Dixie Union mare Reunited, was sent off at 6-1 in a field of nine. Displaying good early speed, Code of Honor went right to the lead and stayed there throughout. Covering six furlongs in 1:11 2/5, and winning by 1 1/2-lengths at Saratoga was a very promising debut for the chestnut colt who has plenty of stamina in his pedigree.

Like Honor Code, the performance was strong enough to move right into Grade 1 company for his second start. The Grade 1 Champagne is a big step up, but one that both colts, five years apart, handled quite well.

Code of Honor was unable to flash any of the speed he showed in his debut, as a stumble out of the gate soon had him back in last of ten early in the one-turn mile at Belmont Park. From there, a wide trip compromised his chances further. All in all, though, it was a very strong performance to finish a clear second behind the unbeaten winner, Complexity.


In fact, it was a performance that has many excited about him for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The grandson of Galileo only figures to improve around two-turns.

"The owner and I talked Friday and decided what have we got to lose?" McGaughey said.

It is, after all, a very different scenario than a Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. Perhaps more importantly than that, it gives Code of Honor a race over the track which will play host to a pretty important race on the first Saturday in May.


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Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. 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. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

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