Honor Code, right, fought back to nip Cairo Prince in a thrilling finish in the Remsen Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
Beaten by a neck in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes in his previous start, Honor Code would not be denied in the Grade 2 Remsen. After Cairo Prince seized command from Honor Code in the stretch, the winner fought back under Javier Castellano and eventually got the best of his rival after a thrilling battle through the last eighth of a mile.
“I thought he got beat leaving the eighth pole, but he showed a lot of guts coming back,” said Honor Code’s Hall of Fame trainer, Shug McGaughey.
Honor Code, a ridgling from the final crop of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, was far back in the early stages of his first two career races — the first a 4 ½-length maiden win and the second his Champagne runner-up finish. Due to a leisurely pace in the Remsen, Honor Code raced in a stalking second through three-quarters of a mile in 1:17.58 and moved to take the lead nearing the stretch.
Cairo Prince tracked from third throughout and made his move under Luis Saez when Honor Code was asked to accelerate, setting up the duel through the stretch.
“I was shocked. Shocked,” McGaughey said of the slow pace. “When [front-runner Master Lightning] went that slow, we went on and engaged him. He got down on the inside of that horse [Cairo Prince] and he got by him. He showed a lot of guts. I'm proud of him. I think the horse in second is a nice horse, and it was a peculiar race.”
McGaughey will ship Honor Code to Payson Park Training Center in Florida for the winter. He will train there for the 2014 Triple Crown trail.
Honor Code has already generated plenty of buzz as a 2-year-old, even though he picked up his first stakes win on Saturday. He won his debut with an eye-popping last-to-first rally and also has one of the better pedigrees of his generation.
Honor Code’s dam (mother) is stakes winner Serena’s Cat, whose first foal to race is multiple graded stakes winner Noble Tune. His second dam (maternal grandmother) is multiple stakes winner Serena’s Tune, who is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Sophisticat and Grade 2 winner Grand Reward. His third dam (maternal great-grandmother) is 1995 champion 3-year-old filly Serena’s Song.
Honor Code picked up his first stakes win in the Remsen by completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.92 for co-owners Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm.
Cairo Prince also looks like he has plenty of potential on the Triple Crown trail. He entered off back-to-back wins in his debut on Oct. 6 and the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes on Nov. 3 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
“That was a tough beat,” McLaughlin said. “The winner is a good horse, but that was a tough one. I thought we had it won.”
For an Equibase chart, click here.
HONOR CODE (inside) HOLDS OFF CAIRO PRINCE IN REMSEN
Photo by Adam Coglianese/NYRA