Trainer Shug McGaughey reported Sunday morning that William S. Farish's Code of Honor came out of his victory in Saturday's $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (G2) in good order.
“So far, all systems are go,” said McGaughey less than 16 hours after watching the 3-year-old colt win Saturday and bounce back from a disappointing performance Jan. 5 here in the Mucho Macho Man. “He seems to have come back fine. We shipped him back last night to Payson [Park Training Center] and he seems fine this morning.”
After wrapping up his 2-year-old campaign with a second-place finish in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park last fall, Code of Honor was the heavy favorite in the Mucho Macho Man. But the son of Noble Mission came up empty and was never a factor when finishing fourth. Dismissed at 9-1 Saturday, Code of Honor redeemed himself with a big win in the Fountain of Youth.
McGaughey, a Hall of Fame trainer who won the 2013 Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) with Orb, said he needed to make some changes.
“Obviously, I thought about [the Mucho Macho Man] a lot,” he said. “I thought from what I saw he probably needed the race and probably, maybe, needed to change his running style just a little bit. We needed to get into him and train him a little harder and more frequent and see if he would take it. We thought, 'If he takes it, we'll go on.' But it was something that came to me pretty quick.”
McGaughey said his preference is to remain at Gulfstream and follow the same route as Orb and run next in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby March 30. “But we're going to have to see how he bounces out of this one,” he said.
No matter where Code of Honor shows up next, McGaughey doesn't believe the longer distances of the spring classics will be a detriment for the Farish homebred.
“I don't think distance will be a problem at all,” McGaughey added. “He had a brother who ran two turns in Kentucky and Noble Mission ran as far as you wanted him to run. He was a mile-and-a-half, mile-and-five-eighths horse. [Code of Honor] is a very efficient kind of horse in the way he moves.”
Trainer Mark Hennig said Sunday morning Bourbon Lake Stable's and Lake Star Stable's Bourbon War was “bright and very happy” after closing to finish second behind Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth. It was the second consecutive year Hennig saddled the second-place finisher in the Fountain of Youth. Last year, Hennig's Strike Power finished behind Promises Fulfilled.
“He came out of it well,” Hennig said. “There were a few things that might have made a difference. Coming off the turn he had to swing just a little wide. But that's horse racing.”
Hennig is also optimistic about his colt's ability to go longer.
“He's a horse that likes to run. I really liked his stride the last sixteenth. He just lowered his head and he really knew what he wanted,” he added. “I don't know if you always get that pace set up, but I think he's proven he doesn't need a pace set up. If they're going slower he'll race a little closer.”
Hennig said his immediate thought is to run next in the Florida Derby. “But we have to see how the horse is doing,” he added. “He's also won at Aqueduct.”
Trainer Ken McPeek reported Signalman, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in November, came out of the Fountain of Youth fine after finishing seventh. The plan was to run next in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland April 6. Sagamore Racing reported Global Campaign, who finished fifth in the Fountain of Youth, grabbed himself leaving the gate and it affected his performance.
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