08/31/2013 4:01PM

Saratoga: Honor Code's impressive debut may send him to Champagne

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Barbara D. Livingston
Honor Code comes from nearly 23 lengths behind under John Velazquez to win his career debut going seven furlongs.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Last year, trainer Shug McGaughey unveiled a good-looking 2-year-old who rallied from out of the clouds to finish a good third in his debut. That horse, Orb, would go on to win this year’s Kentucky Derby.

On Saturday, McGaughey unveiled Honor Code, who rallied from 22 3/4 lengths back at the half-mile pole to win his debut by 4 1/2 lengths under John Velazquez. His final time of 1:23.48 for seven furlongs was one full second faster than the other division of the race won by Grand Arrival one hour later. Both races were run over a sloppy track.

Honor Code is a son of A.P. Indy out of the Storm Cat mare Serena’s Cat, making him a half-brother to the turf stakes winner Noble Tune. He is bred by Dell Ridge Farm, which owns him in partnership with Lanes End Racing.

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“He’s a nice, big horse that’s had a reputation for a while,” McGaughey said. “Johnny came over and worked him out of the gate one day, and he worked really well. I knew he wasn’t going to be quick, but I thought he would finish. I didn’t think he’d get as far back as he did, [Velazquez] didn’t either. When he did, he said ‘I’m just going to drop him in and school him, let him get the mud in his face.’ When he reached back and hit him, he just took off with him.”

McGaughey said that he may look at the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park on Oct. 5 for Honor Code’s next start.

Meanwhile, McGaughey said Orb, third in the Travers, would most likely have his first workout since that race Wednesday at the Fair Hill Training Center. He is being pointed to the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 28.

Will Take Charge to stay put

Rather than ship multiple times, Travers winner Will Take Charge will remain in Saratoga to train up to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 21, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

Lukas said he will leave Will Take Charge and a New York-bred horse here while the rest of his stable will be split between Churchill Downs and Laurel Park. Lukas had thought about shipping Will Take Charge to Churchill and then Parx.

“When you stop and think about it, we’re only three weeks out now,” Lukas said. “We ship and take a soft week then we got another week, which is a week before the race, so it doesn’t make any sense to make all those ships. He’s doing really great here. He had a great month here prior to the Travers.”

Nicks develops two prospects

Trainer Ralph Nicks lost the best horse in his barn after Grade 1 winner Aubby K. sustained a career-ending injury following a routine workout earlier this summer. But Nicks is hopeful he has another 3-year-old filly in the shed capable of following in Aubby K.’s footsteps, Maracuya, who on Friday registered a game three-quarter-length allowance victory while turning back to six furlongs for the first time since winning her debut at Gulfstream Park in April.

Maracuya, a daughter of Big Brown, wore blinkers for the first time Friday and led throughout under a well-judged ride by Velazquez, turning back a couple of bids before holding off the odds-on Delightful Quality to win for the third time in five starts. Maracuya’s only two defeats came around two turns in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and Grade 2 Delaware Oaks.

“It was nice to see her do what she wants to do,” Nicks said. “We just weren’t smart enough to figure it out for a while. She fooled us, even Johnny, yesterday, when he came back, said ‘Did you see her gallop out?’ It’s just amazing she won’t run around two turns.”

Nicks also is high on another 3-year-old in his barn, Speechify, who registered a 10 1/4-length victory making his debut last week at Gulfstream Park. A son of Harlan’s Holiday owned by Team Valor, Speechify earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure for his impressive performance.

“It’s hard to lose one like an Aubby K.,” Nicks said. “Hopefully, one of these others will step up and take her place.”

Saratoga Snacks skips Forego

Trainer Gary Sciacca elected to scratch Saratoga Snacks from Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego, saying the horse wasn’t 100 percent.

Sciacca had been battling foot issues with Saratoga Snacks to the point where he had glue-on shoes put on the New York-bred’s feet. Sciacca also feared the sloppy track.

Sciacca also said he was shaken somewhat by the fatal breakdown suffered by fellow New York-bred Saginaw on Friday.

“After seeing that yesterday, that just broke my heart,” Sciacca said. “I loved him. It’s part of the business, it’s going to happen, but boy you hate to see it happen.”

Boisterous tops Bowling Green

Following Monday’s card at Saratoga, racing on this circuit will be dark until Saturday, when Belmont Park opens its 37-day fall meet.

Saturday’s opening-day card features the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on the turf.

Boisterous, winner of the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont in July, tops a field that is expected to include Farhaan, Hyper, London Lane, and Quick Casablanca. Possible starters include Royal Bench, Share Out, and Stormy Len.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch