Florida Derby: McGaughey ‘Pleasantly Surprised’ By Code Of Honor

by | 03.16.2019 | 2:07pm
Code of Honor, shown winning the Fountain of Youth in h is two-turn debut

W.S. Farish's Code of Honor pleased Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey Saturday morning while prepping for the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) March 30 at Gulfstream Park.

The 3-year-old son of Noble Mission worked for the first time since capturing the $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream March 2, breezing five furlongs at Payson Park in Indiantown FL in 1:01 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 by McGaughey's watch.

“I thought he worked really well. He kind of eased away from the pole, picked it up, went the final eighth of a mile in 11-and-change and galloped out very well. He seemed to come back where he might have needed it a little bit,” McGaughey said. “We've got two weeks to go, so we can get him fresh again and go from there. We were very pleased with what we saw.”

Code of Honor, who finished a disappointing fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the one-turn mile Mucho Macho Man Jan. 5 at Gulfstream, bounced back with a sharp three-quarters of a length victory in the two-turn 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth.

“Coming out of the Fountain of Youth, when I came up here and saw him a week later, which was last Saturday, I was really pleasantly surprised with what I saw, not only physically but his energy level,” McGaughey said. “I'm every bit as pleased today. Hopefully, he comes out of this good and we can move forward off this work.”

Code of Honor stamped himself as a colt to watch in his Aug. 18 debut at Saratoga, in which he led throughout the six-furlong maiden special weight race. He came back to finish second in the Oct. 6 Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park, overcoming a troubled start to close from 10th in the one-turn mile stakes.

Although the Farish homebred disappointed in the 3-year-old debut in the Mucho Macho Man, he took huge strides along the Road to the Triple Crown in his two-turn debut in the Fountain of Youth. McGaughey is hopeful that Code of Honor can follow in the footsteps of Orb and also add a Florida Derby win to his resume. McGaughey saddled Orb for a victory in the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) after triumphs in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby.

“Orb went forward a lot [in South Florida] and this horse is coming forward,” McGaughey said. “When we ran him in January, he wasn't nearly the horse he is today. Hopefully, the next couple months he'll be the same.”

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