Code of Honor, Tacitus point to a rematch against elders

August 25, 2019 03:37pm

Trainers of Saturday's top two Travers Stakes (G1) finishers didn't fully commit their horses the following morning to a specific race, but both mentioned Belmont Park's Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) as a strong possibility moving forward.

Should Code of Honor and Tacitus advance to the Sept. 28 race it would also mean facing older horses for the first time at the same 1 1/4-mile distance as the Mid-Summer Derby.

Shug McGaughey, who conditions Code of Honor, said the Jockey Club Gold Cup would "sort of be the best scenario" for the Noble Mission colt's next start.

"If I wanted to wait a bit longer, you've got the Discovery at Aqueduct in November, or the Cigar Mile," he added. "And obviously we know where the Breeders' Cup is, so we'll have to keep that in mind also.

The $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup carries a "Win and You're In" ticket to the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.

"I would give that a lot of consideration," said Bill Mott, who trains Tacitus. "With that being said, we have not discussed the next race for him yet, but that's my feeling.”

Mott put blinkers on Tacitus for the first time in the Travers, and the colt responded with a forwardly placed effort. The Hall of Fame conditioner said he will likely leave the blinkers on Tacitus, who has won multiple Grade 2 events this season, plus finished second in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy (G2).

"I liked what I saw with the blinkers," Mott said. "It didn't get us outrun. It put us in the race. We were in a good spot. He broke well. I don't see any reason to change that."

The Travers, meanwhile, was the first Grade 1 win for Code of Honor, who was second in the 2018 Champagne, third in the Florida Derby and placed second in the Kentucky Derby. Both McGaughey and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez agreed that his last-to-first victory in the Dwyer (G3) on July 6 at Belmont and Saturday's win were Code of Honor's two best outings.

"He seemed to come back good, but they're usually good the next day," McGaughey said. "It starts getting to them two or three days down the road. We'll keep a good eye on him.”

Lane’s End Farm’s William S. Farish bred and campaigns Code of Honor. McGaughey indicated there will be a 2020 campaign, saying, "I think we're going to see more as a 4-year-old, or at least I hope so. He’s been running pretty good. I think that Johnny's learned to ride him the last two times, and that's made a difference, too. Nobody's better than him. He's a special guy."

Information from the NYRA Press Office contributed to this report.


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