McGaughey Preparing For Another Big Winter At Gulfstream
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Twelve months ago, trainer Shug McGaughey had a promising colt named Orb, who broke his maiden in late November for longtime clients Stuart Janney III and Ogden Mills Phipps. That colt blossomed at the right time, winning a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park prior to taking the trophies in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1), and putting up a career-best performance in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
McGaughey has another youngster in his barn that could take him back to Louisville for the first Saturday in May. Honor Code, a son of A.P. Indy campaigned by Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, has already captured his share of headlines. After a rousing debut score at Saratoga, the dark bay put in a strong run in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont on October 5 and came up a neck short to Havana. He closed out 2013 by taking advantage of trotting-horse fractions in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on November 30 and fought back to deny the highly regarded Cairo Prince that afternoon.
Like his sire, Honor Code was born with an undescended testicle, and McGaughey shipped the colt to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, to have it removed.
“He was a ridgling and had a testicle taken out,” the Hall of Fame trainer explained. “I think he probably knew it was there. Obviously, he was running good, so how much [it bothered him] I don’t know. But I wanted to get it out of the way so it would be one less thing that I had to worry about.”
Honor Code, a great-grandson of champion Serena’s Song, has rejoined McGaughey’s Florida string.
“He’s doing fine,” McGaughey said. “He’s up at Payson Park and training every day. I’ll probably start working him around the first of the year and see where it takes us. I would think the Fountain of Youth would - if everything went right - probably be in our plans, but before that, I don’t know.”
Honor Code closed at 10-1 in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but McGaughey stressed that fortune will play a large role in the next few months.
“At this time, Orb had just broken his maiden, and this horse won a Grade 2 and just got beat in a Grade 1,” McGaughey said when asked to compare the two runners. “With Orb, starting around the first of January, he just started improving, improving, improving. Everything went right with him. I could work him when I wanted to work him, it didn’t rain, and we’ll just have to see if all that happens with Honor Code. He doesn’t have to improve as much as Orb did, but, hopefully, he’ll improve a little bit and we can get the same breaks with him that we did with Orb. Everything went right all winter and spring with Orb.”
Also settling into the same shedrow as Honor Code is Top Billing, a son of Curlin who put in an eye-catching run in the slop to score by 5 ¼ lengths at Laurel on December 6. McGaughey trains that chestnut for William S. Farish and E.J. Hudson Jr. Top Billing will likely make an appearance at Gulfstream soon.
“He’s at Payson Park also,” McGaughey noted. “I’ll look for a spot for him when I see the new [condition] book.” McGaughey is scheduled to saddle Mr. Speaker for a start in Saturday’s $100,000 Dania Beach (G3), a mile turf stakes for 2-year-olds.The son of Pulpit broke his maiden in his third start last time out, leading all the way to post a 2 ¾-length triumph over Belmont Park turf.
“The first time he ran, he ran better than it looked. He missed a hole and got farther back than we wanted to. He ran really good the second time. A bug boy rode him and might have moved a little early on him. Next time he ran, he ran great,” McGaughey said. “We had him entered in a stake at Aqueduct and they called the races off that day. This was the next logical spot.”
Javier Castellano has been named to ride the Phipps Stable homebred colt, who has run all three of his races on turf.
“The female family ran on the grass and the Pulpits seem to like the grass,” McGaughey said. “But I think he’ll run on the dirt, too.”