McGaughey ‘Looking Forward’ To Running Code Of Honor In Saturday’s Whitney

Two-time Grade 1-winner Code of Honor breezed a half-mile in 49.04 seconds at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning over the Oklahoma training track in his final work for Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by W.S. Farish and trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the 4-year-old chestnut son of Noble Mission worked solo under regular exercise rider Lexi Peaden through splits of 25.1, 49 and out in 1:01.3.

“That’s exactly what we wanted. I just wanted him to have a little bit of work and that’s what I asked for him to go in,” said McGaughey. “I always breeze him on the Monday before he runs on Saturday. That seems to put him on his game. He’s had two good works up here and he seems to be doing fine.”

McGaughey credited Peaden for her professionalism in piloting Code of Honor through his morning training.

“She does a great job on him. She doesn’t miss a beat and I have confidence that he’ll go out and do what we want him to do,” said McGaughey. “He’s a pretty push-button horse. If I put a jock on him, he might go a little bit faster than what I want him to. This way, we’ll leave a little something in there.”

Code of Honor enjoyed a tremendous sophomore season winning four of eight starts, including Grade 1 wins in the Runhappy Travers at Saratoga and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. He launched his 4-year-old campaign with two starts at Belmont Park led by a win in the Grade 3 Westchester in June and a closing third last out in the Grade 1 Runhappy Met Mile on July 4 when traveling one turn.

McGaughey will hand the reins to Hall of Famer John Velazquez, a four-time Whitney winner, when Code of Honor stretches back out to nine furlongs in the Whitney.

“Johnny knows him well and he’s been in these spots many times. I’m looking forward to running him a mile and an eighth over this track,” said McGaughey.

Velazquez has previously notched Whitney wins with Left Bank [2002], Lawyer Ron [2007], Commentator [2008] and Cross Traffic [2013], while McGaughey’s trio of Whitney victors include Personal Ensign [1988], Easy Goer [1989] and Honor Code [2015].

A probable field for the Whitney includes By My Standards (Bret Calhoun), Improbable (Bob Baffert), Mr. Buff (John Kimmel), Owendale (Brad Cox), and Tom’s d’Etat (Al Stall, Jr.)

The Hall of Fame conditioner said he is hopeful the compact but talented field will provide some speed to chase.

“The short field doesn’t bother me. He’s had short fields, deep fields, it doesn’t matter, but I’d like to get some pace,” said McGaughey.

Code of Honor will attempt to become the first horse to win the Travers and the Whitney since Medaglia d’Oro did so in 2002-03. A Kentucky homebred, Code of Honor is out of the graded stakes-winning Dixie Union broodmare Reunited.

Shortly following Code of Honor’s impressive breeze, Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s Eclipse Award-champion Older Dirt Female Midnight Bisou worked a half-mile in preparation for her title defense in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign presented by NYRA Bets.

Traveling solo over the Oklahoma training track, Midnight Bisou opened up in 25.2 and was clocked a half-mile in 50.55.

The 5-year-old Midnight Lute mare has notched all 13 of her career wins in graded events. Last year, Midnight Bisou won 7-of-8 starts led by Grade 1 scores in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, and the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, which she captured in dramatic fashion by a nose over Elate.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bisou kicked off her campaign with a second in the inaugural Saudi Cup and enters Saturday’s nine-furlong test off an 8 1/4-length score in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.

The probable field for the Personal Ensign includes Abounding Joy (Rodolphe Brisset), Motion Emotion (Richard Baltas), Point of Honor (George Weaver), and Vexatious (Jack Sisterson).

Ricardo Santana, Jr. will have the call aboard Midnight Bisou on Saturday.

Top Racing, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable’s Bodexpress breezed five furlongs in 1:02.12 Monday on the main track under exercise rider J.J. Delgado in preparation for the $85,000 Alydar, a nine-furlong test slated for August 9.

Trained Gustavo Delgado has a three-horse stable at Saratoga, overseen by his son Gustavo Delgado, Jr., which includes Grade 1 Runhappy Travers hopeful Caracaro and maiden winner Summer Kid.

Both father and son were trackside Monday and came away impressed with the breeze by Bodexpress.

“It was a good breeze, he went the last quarter very good,” said Delgado.

The 4-year-old Bodemeister colt was a late scratch before the start of the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on July 18 at Monmouth Park and was nominated to both the Grade 1 Whitney and $85,000 Alydar.

“Today was a maintenance work because he was supposed to race last week,” said Delgado, Jr. “You can tell he is feeling good. He did that today all on his own and he didn’t come back too tired. The Alydar makes sense especially since it’s been four months since he ran.”

Bodexpress ran second in last year’s Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream as a maiden and was elevated to 13th in the Kentucky Derby before becoming an internet sensation after unseating Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez at the start of the Grade 1 Preakness and completing the course of his own accord.

He then enjoyed a successful stop at Gulfstream Park West where he graduated in October and doubled up in November with a 6 3/4-length allowance score. Bodexpress has kept good company since through four starts at Gulfstream Park, finishing third in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday; fifth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational; off-the-board in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile; and a prominent third last out in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope on March 28.

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is slated to ride Bodexpress in the Alydar and will also breeze Caracaro on Saturday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Runhappy Travers to be held August 8.

Global Thoroughbred and Top Racing’s Caracaro followed up on an impressive January 11 maiden win at Gulfstream with a strong second to Country Grammer in the Grade 3 Peter Pan on July 16 at the Spa, earning 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

“He likes Saratoga,” said Delgado. “He will work on Saturday with Castellano.”

The post McGaughey ‘Looking Forward’ To Running Code Of Honor In Saturday’s Whitney appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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