“All systems are go” with W.S. Farish's Code of Honor, who breezed a half-mile in 48.40 seconds Monday morning at Payson Park in preparation for a much-anticipated start in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
“He looked like he worked very well. I asked him for 49 and he worked 48 and 2 or so, so I think we're in pretty good shape,” Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said.
Exercise rider Haladio Moreno was aboard for the breeze, which was the son of Noble Mission's second since capturing the $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (G2) March 2 at Gulfstream.
“He looks good and I think he's been training very well. I think all systems are go with him right now,” he said.
Code of Honor disappointed in his 2019 debut in the Jan. 5 Mucho Macho Man, in which he finished an even fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the one-turn mile kickoff of Gulfstream's tradition-rich 3-year-old stakes program. However, he redeemed himself in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, in which he settled off a strong early pace before rallying through the stretch to score by three-quarters of a length over Bourbon War in his two-turn debut.
“He's had a good winter since the first of January and I think he's looking forward to what he does,” McGaughey said. “I like what I saw physically today and in terms of how he worked.”
Code of Honor turned in a sharp debut at Saratoga last August, scoring by 1 ½ lengths after leading throughout a six-furlong maiden special weight race under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Seven weeks later, the son of Noble Mission overcame a stumbling start to close from last in the 10-horse field to finish second in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park. He was scheduled to finish off his 2018 season in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs, only to be scratched after spiking a fever on the morning of the race.
Velazquez has the return mount aboard the Farish homebred.
Code of Honor tops a field that is expected to include Bourbon War, who closed with a rush in the Fountain of Youth; Hidden Scroll, who set a rapid pressured early pace in the Fountain of Youth before finishing fourth as the 6-5 favorite; and Harvey Wallbanger, who captured the $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull (G2) Feb. 2 at Gulfstream as a 29-1 longshot. Undefeated Maximum Security, FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes star Garter and Tie and Union's Destiny, sixth in the Fountain of Youth, are also being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile stakes that has produced the winners of 59 Triple Crown races. Overdeliver and Come on Gerry are among other possible entrants Wednesday.
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