10/25/2015 10:41AM

Honor Code inspires confidence ahead of BC Classic

Michael Amoruso
Honor Code is scheduled to ship to Keeneland on Monday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Though Honor Code is coming off a lackluster third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kelso earlier this month, trainer Shug McGaughey said his confidence level is “pretty high” entering next Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

“That could have helped him, maybe pushed him forward,” McGaughey said Sunday morning at Belmont Park. “I think that his last three weeks have been the best three weeks I’ve seen him have.”

On Sunday morning, Honor Code was credited with a half-mile workout in 48 seconds over the Belmont Park main track. It still was dark and lightly raining when Honor Code breezed around 6:45 a.m. McGaughey caught his final eighth in 12 seconds. Exercise rider Donna McMullen gave McGaughey two thumbs up back at the barn.

“After the way I saw him gallop yesterday, I wasn’t nervous today at all,” McGaughey said about 30 minutes after the work. “If he went in 52, it would have been fine. He was just so eager yesterday. I took him to the gate, and he was so eager for everything he was doing.”

McGaughey said he was more nervous going into last week’s work when Honor Code went five furlongs in 58.16, his major piece of work for the Classic.

“I didn’t want to look up and see he went five-eighths in 1:04,” McGaughey said.

In the Classic, Honor Code will meet Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, the champion mare Beholder, multiple Grade 1 winner Tonalist, the European-based Group 1 winner Gleneagles, and Grade 1-winning 3-year-olds Frosted and Keen Ice.

Asked for his confidence level going into the race, McGaughey said, “Pretty high. I wish they had run yesterday. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a terrific race. I think it’ll be a true-run race. I think he’s doing good. I hope we get him down there and he does every bit as good as he’s done here. The colder the better – he likes cold.”

Honor Code was scheduled to ship early Monday morning. McGaughey said Honor Code would likely walk Tuesday and gallop Wednesday through Friday.

“I hope we get there and we look at each other and say, ‘Boy, he’s really getting over this [track] really good,” McGaughey said.