Runs tomorrow, October 7, 2013.
5/2 in the Champagne will be the highest price you will ever see on him, so please take advantage.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Honor Code may bring McGaughey back to race
It has not been by design that trainer Shug McGaughey has participated in just one of the last 20 runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
McGaughey, who won the 1989 Juvenile with Rhythm, said his absence from the richest race of the year for 2-year-olds is a product of the type of stock he has gotten in recent years; horses bred to start later and run longer distances than typically available early in a juvenile’s career.
“I wish I was more active,” said McGaughey, whose last Juvenile starter was Saarland in 2001. “One of the things that people have to realize is I don’t have that many. They think you get 50 2-year olds; no, I got 20. Out of the 20, five or six are probably really good prospects. A couple of colts I got now I think are okay, but they’re not going to be okay now.”
Honor Code is one colt that McGaughey has who was more than okay in his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 31. Saturday, Honor Code will try to earn his way into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he runs in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Champagne is one of three important stakes to be run this weekend that will likely help determine the bulk of the field for the Juvenile to be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
The Champagne, a one-turn mile run on dirt, and Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity over Keeneland’s Polytrack, both offer fees-paid berths into the Juvenile. Sunday, Woodbine hosts the Grade 3, $150,000 Grey Stakes.
Honor Code, a son of A.P. Indy owned by Will Farish’s Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, seemed like the typical young prospect McGaughey has been getting over the years – a big, leggy sort of colt who was going to develop later on. But as McGaughey started training him this spring, it became apparent this one was a little different.
“He’s so athletic,” McGaughey said. “When I left [Belmont] to go to Saratoga I told [Farish] this horse is going to get himself ready to run, it’s not me getting him ready to run.”
McGaughey said Honor Code was ready to run in mid-August, but that he wanted to wait for a seven-furlong race to get him started. That race was offered Aug. 31, the final Saturday of the Saratoga meet.
Over a sloppy track, Honor Code dropped back to last shortly after the start. Three furlongs into the race, he was 22 lengths back. Jockey John Velazquez had guided him to the inside in part to give the horse some education. But he made a strong rally around the far turn and sustained it through the stretch, coming through along the rail to win by 4 3/4 lengths.
“Johnny said ‘He got back farther than I thought he would, so I said I’ll bury him down there and school him.,’ ” McGaughey said. “When it came time to ask him to run, it was just a matter of where he was going to go. I knew he would get back, I just didn’t realize he’d get that far back, especially when he broke good.”
With Velazquez committed to ride Horse of the Year Wise Dan in Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, Javier Castellano has picked up the mount on Honor Code for the Champagne.
Honor Code’s performance was flattered last weekend when Misconnect and Purple Sky, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, from that race, came back to win maiden special weight races at Belmont and Churchill.
Saturday, Honor Code makes his second start against eight horses in a Champagne field led by Hopeful winner Strong Mandate. Also entered are Havana, who earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his 5 1/2-furlong debut victory at Saratoga, and Casiguapo, the Hopeful runner-up.
At Keeneland, 17 horses were entered for the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity. Fourteen will be allowed to run, while two horses – both trained by Dale Romans – are relegated to the also-eligible list. Bro Rodrigeaux, fourth in Honor Code’s maiden race, was excluded.
Solitary Ranger, who won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity, heads the Futurity field that also included Kendall’s Boy, who after finishing second to Havana won a maiden race by 5 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Todd Pletcher entered Intense Holiday in both the Champagne, where he drew the outside post, and Breeders’ Futurity, where he drew the rail. Pletcher wanted to evaluate the fields before deciding where to run.
Entries for the Grey Stakes, run at 1 1/16 miles over Woodbine’s synthetic surface were to be taken Thursday. Among those expected was Give No Quarter, a 22 1/4-length maiden winner at Presque Isle Downs on Sept. 17; Go Greeley, a winner of three sprint stakes; and recent maiden winner Ami’s Holiday.
Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
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