‘That Sort Of Swing, The Glide, The Stride’: Shirreffs Says Honor A. P. Should Go The Distance

Honor A. P., the likely second choice for Saturday’s rescheduled edition of the Kentucky Derby, has made quite an impression galloping over the Churchill Downs surface in the mornings. The son of Honor Code has the look of his grandsire, A.P. Indy, and should relish the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Run for the Roses, according to trainer John Shirreffs.

“Obviously he’s named after his grandsire, so what he really has is a really big stride,” Shirreffs explained. “He has a long underline, and he has a very big stride, and it’s an effortless stride. Like, when you watch sprinters run, they kind of run hard, like they’re turning the stride over, turning the stride over, turning the stride over. You’re not seeing that swing, that little rhythm to their stride, usually.

“With Honor A. P., that’s what you see, that sort of swing, the glide, the stride; swing, glide, stride. That shows or indicates that he’s not putting a lot of effort into it, so that helps horses go farther.”

Though he was particularly impressive winning the Santa Anita Derby on June 6, racing pundits may be hesitant to back Honor A. P. after his loss last out in the Shared Belief Stakes. Shirreffs explained that he didn’t have the colt completely focused on running ahead of that 1 1/16-mile contest at Del Mar.

“Going into the Shared Belief, we were working on other things than cranking him up for the race,” the trainer said. “We were working on his attitude a little bit, trying to get him to behave a little bit better. He was starting to feel really good, and he was starting to be a little difficult to handle. So we wanted to do everything we could to quiet him, calm him down, get him to relax, and not crank him up and get him stressing.

“The only way you can do that with a big strong animal is to quiet them, and the best way to quiet them is to give them lots of exercise. Wet saddle blankets is the best thing for a high-strung horse.”

Honor A. P. has been on his best behavior at Churchill this week, and while Shirreffs believes he’s ready for the challenge, the trainer said he’d just as soon have run the Derby in May.

“It would have been nice to run then, because the sequence would have been perfect,” he said. “I don’t think the four months have helped him or hurt him, he was pretty precocious early on.”

Shirreffs knows what a Kentucky Derby winner looks like, after all. He saddled Giacomo to an upset victory in 2005, and told reporters he still hasn’t watch the replay from that first Saturday in May.

“The feeling I had after the race was so special, I want to keep that feeling,” Shirreffs said. “I don’t want to analyze the race, and go, ‘oh, look at this and look at that.’ I just want to think of the whole thing and the feeling I got from it.”

He’ll miss the fans at this year’s September Derby, of course, but Shirreffs is hoping for a big effort from Honor A. P. on Saturday.

“(Listening to the fans is) sort of an electric feeling, but winning the Derby is always special,” said Shirreffs. “But Honor A. P. is a completely different horse, and it’s his opportunity, so we want to make the best of that.”

Thanks to the National Turfwriters and Broadcasters Association (NTWAB), which has assembled a group of pool reporters providing independent reporting to members unable to be on the Churchill Downs grounds this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The post ‘That Sort Of Swing, The Glide, The Stride’: Shirreffs Says Honor A. P. Should Go The Distance appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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