03/07/2015 6:26PM

Honor Code uses powerful rally to win Gulfstream Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Honor Code, with jockey Javier Castellano up, rallied from far back to win the Gulfstream Park Handicap by half a length Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Shug McGaughey, after watching the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap on the television monitor and not seeing Honor Code in the picture down the backside, said, “I was about ready to go home.”

Fortunately, the Hall of Fame horseman stuck around to watch the rest of the race. Otherwise, he would have missed an incredible performance by Honor Code, who rallied down the center of the track from more than a dozen lengths behind to run down 6-5 favorite Private Zone and register a thrilling half-length decision in the Grade 2, one-mile fixture. Valid held on to finish third, a head in front of Wicked Strong.

Honor Code appeared to stumble briefly at the start, then dropped far off the early pace set by Private Zone and pressed from the outset by Valid. The leaders posted early splits of 23.51 and 45.96 seconds for the opening quarter- and half-mile, with Honor Code nearly 15 lengths behind at that point. 

Jockey Javier Castellano eased Honor Code outside while commencing his rally leaving the backstretch as the two leaders continued to battle up front. Honor Code then responded to steady urging while gobbling up ground down the center of the track, ultimately overtaking Private Zone near the wire.

Private Zone, making his first start since winning the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, held on resolutely along the inside to finish second under Carlos Marquez, who replaced regular rider Martin Pedroza when the latter was unable to secure a Florida license. Wicked Strong raced within easy striking distance through midstretch but lacked a final response.

Honor Code, a son of A.P. Indy owned in partnership by Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, completed a mile in 1:36.37 and paid $7.

“I got concerned when there wasn’t a 1 on the TV for a long time,” McGaughey said, referring to the number on Honor Code’s saddle towel. “It was the same thing when he broke his maiden at Saratoga. He was never in the picture, and I was thinking up excuses already. This was only his second race in a year. We’ve got to all remember that. To see him come back and run the way he did, dig down and run as hard as he did and gallop out the way he did, it’s a tribute to the horse and to the people [who work with him]. Everybody put their heads together, we were determined to get him back and see how good he is, and he showed us today.”

McGaughey said he is in no rush to bring Honor Code back off his gut-wrenching effort in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

“I told the owners, ‘Please don’t make me run him back too quick because I know this had to take something out of him,’ ” said McGaughey. “We’ve got the Westchester Mile up there, but I don’t know what we’re going to do yet. I would seriously doubt the Carter would be something in the books because I don’t know I’d want to run him back that quickly.”

Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Any word on the issue preventing Pedroza from getting licensed? Seems curious...
Dameian Ramsay More than 1 year ago
honor code was my derby horse till he got hurt last year. If this horse can stay healthy and the longer they go in distance, watch out later on down in the year and we could b setting up for a great breeders cup classic this year when palace malice comes back with shared belief California chrome bayern wicked strong tonalist and dortmond upstart carpe diem itasaknockout. This should b a real good handicap division this year if all above mentioned horses can stay healthy.
Lefty More than 1 year ago
If Honor Code can stay healthy, I think he could beat Shared Belief.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
not a chance..trust me on this.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
They will meet in the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes. Home court advantage for Honor Code and if it rains we know he loves the slop.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Number one tired line in racing. WHO HE BEAT
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
A couple Grade 1 winners
Kenny H More than 1 year ago
....all of them
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Who he beat lol
Big Rob stud More than 1 year ago
Much more than shared belief did.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Seams like a nice colt,but he needs to ship/win out west to get respect from race fans .
Dameian Ramsay More than 1 year ago
He won on a speed track coming back from 12 lengths And he's won in ny. Any good closer that can win at Gulfstream can win anywhere. Breeders cup is at Keeneland this year not Santa Anita. Tell shared belief to ship to the east coast
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
If theyre confident enough ,they know where Shared Belief will be.I think they'll stay home back east.
Steve Reed More than 1 year ago
This horse wants to be back early, he almost got beat by Cairo Prince when they got him involved early, he has the Heart of a Lion down the stretch. He has so much talent and would have contended Big Time in the Triple Crown, had it not been for his injury. Hopefully he remains sound because he is a special sort.
Mark Oleary More than 1 year ago
Here's a horse that has Horse of The Year potential and couldn't be in better hands. Bad luck kept him out of the derby, but I see the Breeders Cup Classic with his name on the trophy. And he'll pay a nice mutuel too.Nice job Shug!
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
He might have to go get past Shared Belief for the HOY Trophy.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
ho come on listen he is a nice horse and he has a good closing kick ..but lets be honest the horses he beat here are a top sprinter and a gr3 type speed horse who dueled each other and set him up.
Dameian Ramsay More than 1 year ago
Who did shared belief beat
Scott More than 1 year ago
Honor Code actually beat a better field, but it's worth noting that his win came in a one turn mile. Shared Belief destroyed a field at the classic distance. It's worth noting that Honor Code has never ran further than 9F's in his career. His pedigree says the added furlong won't be a problem, but until he runs you truly never know.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Private Zone's signature win is the Cigar Mile so he's more than just a sprinter. He also beat the Travers winner sitting the perfect trip. Anyway, horseracing is about risk and reward. They'll meet in the Met Mile - 3/5 on Shared Belief, 5/1 Honor Code with home field advantage.
papine01 . More than 1 year ago
Agree Scott.For HC to compete with SB and CC ,not to memtion Bayern,Tonalist,he needs to have a better forward response where he can be more close.If not he wont beat those horses. They can carry their speed so he better learn fast.He reminds me though of his father AP Indy.
Scott More than 1 year ago
This was a crazy race to watch. I can't remember a horse closes that much ground at Gulfstream Park. Couple that with the expectation that Honor Code would usually be much closer to the pace and it was very improbable. I don't know what he can do in the Handicap Division this year, but if he hopes to contend against Shared Belief or California Chrome (assuming he has something left after travelling to Dubai), then he'll probably want to get out of the gate closer to on time. Note: Wicked Strong looked very much like a horse that needed the race. My guess is he's a cut below the top players in the Handicap Division, but I'm not ready to completely disregard him after his first race off a long layoff. Additionally, he clearly wants more ground.
Big Rob stud More than 1 year ago
He has always had a dislike for Gulfstream but last year his works were reported to be fantastic, this year they have been so so.