10/19/2015 1:01PM

Honor Code starts late, finishes early

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John Bambury
Honor Code, here running third in the Kelso, came out to the Belmont Park main track later than usual, and then zipped five furlongs in 58.16.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Honor Code heated up a cold Monday morning in these parts by blazing five furlongs in 58.16 seconds over the Belmont Park main track, his final major move for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31.

Usually sent out to train shortly after sunrise, Honor Code did not come out Monday to breeze until after the renovation break at 8:45 a.m. Due to the cold temperatures – it was 33 degrees at 6 a.m. – trainer Shug McGaughey correctly assumed that the maintenance crew would not put any water on the track early, and he hoped they would do it at the break as the temperature rose. The track was watered at the break.

“I thought the track would be cuppy [early], which is not his bag as much as hearing his feet rattle,” McGaughey said.

Honor Code, with exercise rider Donna McMullen up, came through the tunnel onto the track and, in a change of tactics, went straight off, jogging the right way until breaking into a gallop around the seven-furlong pole. Kept about three paths off the rail by McMullen, Honor Code picked up speed at the five-furlong pole, but the work did not officially begin until the half-mile pole.

Honor Code went from the half-mile pole to the quarter pole in 23.23 seconds, then, once straightened away down the lane, went his next quarter in 22.91 and then the next eighth in 12.02 seconds. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.07 and seven-eighths in 1:24.50.

“The way he’s been training around here, I didn’t expect much less,” McGaughey said. “If he had gone in 59, that would have been perfect, but I knew the way the track was when I walked up there, the way the weather is, and how he’s been training, it didn’t matter who I put him on him. He wasn’t going to go five-eighths slow.”

Honor Code has now put in two very good workouts and several strong gallops since his third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kelso on Oct. 3, which may have been a weaker performance than McGaughey was hoping to see.

“I probably have tuned up his training a little bit,” McGaughey said. “He’s taken everything I’ve thrown at him. We’ll see how he comes out of this and go from there.”

McGaughey planned to work Honor Code this Sunday at Belmont and then ship him to Keeneland on Monday.

McGaughey said he has been told by ownership that this will be Honor Code’s final race before he goes to stud.

Honor Code, a 4-year-old ridgling by A.P. Indy owned by Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, is 3 for 5 this year, with Grade 1 victories in the Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney Stakes.