Thoroughbred Code of Honor moves forward
SHEPHERDSTOWN — For a thoroughbred with a “last-to-first” tactical style, Code of Honor doesn’t fit the usual mold of such race horses.
He is not broad-chested or have a wide and muscular backside that can be used for bruising his way through traffic to reach the front end of his races.
He is more willowy, much like front runners or stalkers are.
But Code of Honor proved his mettle in the Travers Stakes last Saturday at historic and classy Saratoga in upstate New York. The Travers is Saratoga’s main marketing tool. It is called the “Mid-summer Classic”, but don’t tell the school-age children that have already returned to their classrooms that August 24 is in the middle of summer.
A chestnut-colored three-year-old, Code of Honor has the beauty marks of the physically appealing thoroughbreds who give 11-year-old girls heart palpitations. He’s got a long white blaze that covers much of his forehead, and he glistens in the sun during his post parades.
He doesn’t glisten anywhere on his athletic body when his races are finished because he has moved from eighth or ninth place through the crowd in front and has been splattered with dirt or mud for his effort.
In the Travers, he spent most of the nine-furlong event back in eighth place before moving forcefully forward with an outside route that carried him near the lead as he swung around the final turn and into the Saratoga stretch.
When he ranged alongside the mid-stretch leaders (Tacitus and Mucho Gusto), he rushed past them and pushed on quickly to a three-length win. Code of Honor is trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey, a cordial and down-to-earth man who relishes any success his pupils accomplish.
It had been seven weeks since McGaughey raced him in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont, a race he won and gained him McGaughey’s approval to try the Mid-summer Classic. Code of Honor had tried the Kentucky Derby and then was given two months away from race competition before the Dwyer.
With victories in both the Dwyer and Travers, he has won $1,885,820 — a healthy earning totals for a thoroughbred who drew only a $70,000 bid when put up for auction as an unraced yearling. The bid was rejected by his owner, who kept him and gave him to McGaughey and his patient and proven ways.
In eight career starts, the high-riding chestnut has four wins, a pair of runner-up finishes and also a third-place effort. What’s next for him? McGaughey would only say he’ll wait to see Code of Honor’s physical condition before mapping his future plans. If all is well and his training can continue uninterrupted, placement in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28 at Belmont Park is a logical spot.
Now in the middle of the dash toward three-year-old honors, McGaughey just might try to maneuver his way into the Breeders Cup festivities to be held on November 2 at Santa Anita Race Course in California.
The waving tail and charge-through-the-stretch style of Code of Honor makes him dangerous to any of the other headline-grabbing three-year-olds.