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Updated on 12/03/2013 9:20AM
Aqueduct: Honor Code comes back on to nail Cairo Prince on wire in Remsen
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – In a strange, slowly run race, Honor Code showed a different dimension and that he has some guts to go with his talent, coming back on Cairo Prince, who had passed him in midstretch, to win Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen Stakes by a nose at Aqueduct.
Cairo Prince, who looked as though he was going to cruise by Honor Code in midstretch, had to settle for second, a half-length in front of the late-running Wicked Strong. Intense Holiday, Master Lightning, Matuszak, Afleet Accompli, and Mental Iceberg completed the order of finish.
The win was the second from three starts for Honor Code, a ridgling by A.P. Indy, who skipped the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after getting beat a neck by Havana in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park. In the Champagne – and in his eye-catching debut win at Saratoga – Honor Code rallied from last. Saturday, Honor Code stalked from second the glacial pace of Master Lightning, who went a half-mile in 52.74 seconds and six furlongs in 1:17.56.
Honor Code made a brief lead in upper stretch before being passed by Cairo Prince outside the eighth pole. However, Honor Code battled back along the inside and got his nose in front at the wire. He covered 1 1/8 miles 1:52.92 and returned $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite.
“He showed a lot of guts to come back and run that strong,” said Shug McGaughey, who trains Honor Code for Will Farish’s Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm. “I’m proud of him. I think the horse that was second is a nice horse. It was kind of a peculiar race.”
Honor Code was ridden by Javier Castellano, who won five races on Saturday’s card including the Grade 2 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies on Stopchargingmaria and the Grade 3 Comely for 3-year-old fillies aboard Wedding Toast.
In the Remsen, Castellano said he sensed the slow pace, but that it was Honor Code who put him in a stalking position entering the backstretch.
“I know he’s a come-from-behind horse, but the pace was slow and the horse wanted to run the first part, I just didn’t want to fight him,” Castellano said. “I just wanted to enjoy the trip.”
Cairo Prince, who had won his first two starts including the Grade 2 Nashua here Nov. 3, was sitting in a good position in third under Luis Saez. In upper stretch, he made a run for the lead, but as he did in the Nashua when he opened up five lengths in midstretch, Cairo Prince began to wait, according to Saez.
“He tried to wait a little bit, you remember last time he opened up five and he stopped a little,” Saez said. “Today, he was doing the same thing.”
Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Cairo Prince, had mixed emotions about the race.
“Good horse beat us, that’s for sure, we were wide the whole way but ran great,” McLaughlin said. “We were right there with the winner, we were just a little wide. Unlucky. I thought we were going to win by three.”
McGaughey won this year’s Kentucky Derby with Orb, who won a maiden race on Cigar Mile Day last year. On Sunday, he was to send Honor Code to Payson Park in Florida to begin preparing for a 3-year-old campaign. Honor Code earned 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the Remsen victory and with his second-place finish in the Champagne at Belmont in October has 14 overall.
Orb “made such progress from the first of January to May 4, we’ll just have to see if this horse is going to do the same,” McGaughey said. “I think that’s what really makes a horse that can win the Derby or a Triple Crown race, they got to progress over the winter.”
Just an observation: Those late-running fractions are detrimental to whether Honor Code and Cairo Prince will be able to compete on this level again. I have seen the opinions go both ways in the aftermath of this race. However, I remember watching last year's Remsen where Normandy Invasion looked as if he had the race won...almost similar to Cairo Prince. In 2012, Normandy Invasion looked as if something "popped inside" in deep stretch and he began to slow noticeably. Overanalyze, coming from off of the pace, took over in the drive and just got up. The point: Overanalyze and Normandy Invasion did not engage in level of fast-closing fractions that Cairo Prince and Honor Code were subjected to. (The 2012 Remsen was ran almost 3 seconds faster because of an "honest" pace). From the research I have been engaged in these last 7 or 8 years, I have found that horses that engage in this type of late-running exertion...where the last portion of the race runs peculiarly faster than the first portion (such as what was exhibited in the 2013 Remsen)...do not bounce back well. Just to refresh everyone's memory: Normandy went on to run well in the Wood Memorial, but that was his last good race. He put himself in position to win the Derby and then slowed dramatically. Apparently, whatever happened to him in the Remsen was aggravated in the Wood Memorial and later surfaced in his Derby bid. We haven't heard from him since. (Unlike Normandy Invasion, I did not see Cairo Prince "pop"; he just started to slow slightly because he expended all of his energy.) Overanalyze won a slow Arkansas Derby and never did anything after that. Based on what I saw last year in comparison to this year, neither of these will pose much of a threat in the Triple Crown, even if they make it to the Derby...
Plenty of room for improvement with Wicked Strong! Don't be surprised come May, that the horse isn't racing greenly anymore.
honor code has done things most 2 year olds don't do. coming from 23 lenghts back at saratoga up the rail to win for fun in the slop.taken 8 wide at belmont and almost winning and yesterday running near the lead most of the way getting passed in the stretch by 1/2 lenght and coming back to win.castellano won the race with his early move on a horse that wants to be way back early.and shug is a trainer that never has his 2 year old s cranked up early.he is so far ahead of orb at this point. will be shugs 2nd derby winner
Hasnt anyone realized yet, the horses that win these winter races go on to win nothing in May? If they are even around come May. The race means nothing.
My 1st impression as I watched this race unfold with the splits was.."what a turtle race"..no real committed front runner...and then they came home in no spectacular fashion other than it looking like a couple of horses having a workout..The KJC seemed to have more upside than the Remsen
Saez lost the race on the first turn. He's supposed to be on the lead. Typical New York merry go-round. Two stakes races in New York and they both are run in plus 50 half mile splits. I don't think either one of them can beat Indianapolis.
Super slow fractions, but sooo much more impressive than the Demoiselle. Castellano let Cairo Prince get first run, but then Saez let Honor Code back into it by easing up ever-so-slightly as he passed by that one. Cairo Prince definitely has the quicker turn of foot, but that sustained run of Honor Code is pretty impressive, too. These two will be interesting to watch going forward. If they improve at all, and stay healthy (fingers crossed)... They'll be big factors for that big race at Churchill in May. Big if's, though. I hope people don't get hung up too much on how slow the first six furlongs were and discredit how fast they came home. These were 2-year-olds going 1-1/8 around two turns on a track that wasn't playing that fast, all with limited racing experience. To run that fast after travelling a significant distance of ground (for lightly raced 2-year-olds) is very promising. Not calling them world-beaters yet, either! But I am curious about one thing.. (So someone please answer) What's up with Honor Code being a ridgling now? I've never fully been explained ridglings before, but my understanding was that they had to have at least one undescended to be classified as a ridgling. Plainly, that they just have one is how someone put it. So the jump from colt to ridgling seems.. impossible? Unless they somehow thought that he was just born with one (but again, I thought that they had to have both to be classified a colt..), but didn't get around to checking til recently? Or was, for some reason, partially gelded? I'm clearly an idiot on the subject. Someone please clarify. Thanks!
If this exact same horse was trained by a certain trainer and won the exact same race in exact same fashion and time. There would not be all this love fest over him. I wil start by giving myself a thumbs down.
So they ran the last 3 f in 35.36, Not bad for 2 year olds going 9f in November - despite that early crawl.