Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said Code of Honor came back well from his victory in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday at Belmont Park, where he was elevated to first place following the disqualification of Vino Rosso.
The sophomore chestnut son of Noble Mission arrived at the Jockey Club Gold Cup off of a victory in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga. He became the first horse since Summer Bird in 2009 to capture a Travers-Jockey Club Gold Cup double.
The victory made the W.S. Farish homebred a likely frontrunner for Champion 3-Year-Old.
“He came back fine,” said McGaughey, who previously won the Jockey Club Gold Cup with Valandingham (1985), Easy Goer (1989) and Miner's Mark (1993). “He looked good last night, and he looked good this morning. We'll see as we go along.”
While McGaughey did not rule out a start in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic, he did not make any commitments.
“I'll see how he comes out of it and talk to Mr. Farish as the week goes a long and we'll make up our mind,” McGaughey said. “I'll possibly give him some time and try and bring him back in the spring. Maybe the [Grade 1] Carter at Aqueduct and the [Grade 3] Westchester here.”
McGaughey believes that the Jockey Club Gold Cup win puts Code of Honor atop his 3-year-old division.
“I would think so,” McGaughey said. “I was very confident going into the Travers. I was confident going into this race that he was going to run his race, but stepping up against some nice older horses you never know until you try. I was very pleased with the way he ran and to step it up against some accomplished older horses was a big accomplishment for Code of Honor.”
McGaughey said the stewards made the right call to elevate Code of Honor.
“I thought we were [the best horse]. I thought we had that horse and we got banged and he came out and hit us a couple of times,” McGaughey said. “You can see how much Vino Rosso drifted out and [jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] said the second time he hit him, it kind of knocked him off balance. He came back and finished and got beat a nose, so I thought we were the best.”
Code of Honor has amassed over $2.2 million in lifetime earnings and has five victories in nine starts.
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