Sunday, March 3, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH – W.S. Farish’s Code of Honor rebounded from a disappointing effort in his 2019 debut to capture Saturday’s Gr. II, $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and stamp himself as a leading prospect for the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby and the 2019 Triple Crown.
Code of Honor was saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who captured the 2013 Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby with Orb.
Code of Honor was sent to post at 9-1 for the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, which headlined a 14-race program highlighted by nine graded stakes, and produced the winning performance that had been expected of him in the Jan. 5 Mucho Macho Man, in which he finished fourth as the 4-5 favorite. The son of Noble Mission’s winning kick was benefited by a hotly-contested pace set by Hidden Scroll, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Joel Rosario, who was pressed on his inside by longshot Gladiator King.
The winner broke from the No. 1 post position in the 11-horse field, and saved ground around the first turn. He was a comfortable fifth along the backstretch under John Velazquez as the pacesetters set dazzling fractions of 22.80 and 45.69 seconds for the first half mile. Hidden Scroll, who was only making his second career start after breaking his maiden by 14 lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 26, shook off Gladiator King to open a lead on the far turn with Global Campaign in closest pursuit. Meanwhile, Velazquez left the rail with Code of Honor just long enough to go around Gladiator King on the far turn before ducking back to the rail to advance toward the leader. After putting away Global Campaign and Vekoma while cutting the corner into the homestretch, Code of Honor loomed as a serious threat while swinging to the outside in pursuit of Hidden Scroll.
Hidden Scroll shortened stride in the stretch after his early efforts as Code of Honor swept by on his way to victory. Bourbon War, who had won two of three starts, closed well to finish second, three-quarters of a length away and two lengths ahead of Vekoma.
comments powered by
Code of Honor ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.85, after he was trained more aggressively for the Fountain of Youth than the Mucho Macho Man.
“After the Mucho Macho Man, I said listen, we’re going to train him," McGaughey said. "If he takes it he takes it, and he took it. He was doing good with what we were putting into him, so we kept doing it and we felt like he was going to come down here and run well. I thought we drew a good post. We saved some ground going around the first turn and just be patient. We got the set up.”
Prior to the Mucho Macho Man, Code of Honor had broken his maiden at first asking at Saratoga in August before finishing a troubled second in the Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 6. He was entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs but was scratched on race day due to spiking a fever.
McGaughey said he would weigh his options for Code of Honor’s next start. “I would prefer to stay here [for the Florida Derby], but I’m going to see,” McGaughey said. “A couple of them [Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and Blue Grass at Keeneland] are a little farther down the line, so we’ll see how he comes out of it. We’ll figure it out.”