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Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Honor Code: Intelligent & Camera Happy

Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Honor Code: Intelligent & Camera Happy: In 2011, a breed-shaping stallion was finally pensioned after a serious decline in his fertility. A.P. Indy retired from breeding as a result of his inability to impregnate any more than the 25 mares to which he had been bred. One mare had to visit the stallion six times before she was confirmed in foal. One foal of his final crop, a stunningly gorgeous, nearly black horse, will be his shot at siring a Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner, which he himself won more than 20 years ago. Honor Code, a four-year-old ridgling trained by Shug McGaughey, is making the most important start of his career. His regular exercise rider, Donna McMullen, was happy to update us about the Breeders’ Cup Classic contender.

Honor Code Breeders' Cup Classic 2015

“He knows he is special. I’ve never been around a horse that knows how good he is as him,” McMullen noted. He loves the camera, that is for sure!”
Photo: Susie Raisher, Coglianese/NYRA

Following the Breeders’ Cup Classic, according to McMullen’s knowledge, the son of A.P. Indy will take his spot in the breeding shed at Lane’s End Farm where his sire was pensioned from stud duty in 2010. Honor Code may be the best-bred son of A.P. Indy to date. The horse is from the female family of the very important mare Serena’s Song. Honor Code also possesses the Storm Cat sire line on his bottom half. Honor Code has a ¾-brother by Tapit named Morse Code, also trained by McGaughey. Honor Code is a half-sibling to Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song), and his unnamed ¾-sibling, a filly by Tapit, sold last November for a record price of $3 million as a weanling.

Right now, Honor Code is training fantastically at Belmont. When asked if Honor Code thrives on racing and work, McMullen’s response seemed enthusiastic: “He loves it!” Honor Code recently went five furlongs in :58.32 on October 19 at Belmont Park, producing the fastest work of the day for the distance. His work prior to that one, although not the fastest of the day, was a five-eighths breeze that he completed in 1:00 2/5.

“That’s the best he’s worked all summer,” said McGaughey of Honor Code. “He galloped out very, very good, and I’m very pleased.”

As for McMullen, who has been riding for McGaughey since 1990, she claims that Honor Code “is the most intelligent horse I’ve ever ridden. He is the best horse I’ve ever sat on.” For comparison, McMullen has ridden horses such as Storm Flag Flying, Educated Risk, Imagining, Heavenly Prize, and many others. For her to say such things of Honor Code is definitely a compliment to his talent.

Honor Code will have a lot to prove come Breeders’ Cup Classic day. This may be the most difficult field he has had to face in his life. He has yet to race against the top older mare in Beholder or the best horse in training, American Pharaoh. However, those horses also have something to prove. Beholder has yet to win outside of California, and American Pharoah has yet to race against open company. He is coming into the Breeders’ Cup Classic off his first loss of the year in the Travers Stakes in which Keen Ice (Curlin) took advantage of Frosted’s pushing American Pharoah to his limit.

Honor Code has a good angle coming into the Classic, however. There is potential for some very good speed even without the lightning fast Liam’s Map, who has instead been pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI). Honor Code hopes to soak up the attention while he can before he finally retires to the same barn his sire dominated for nearly 20 years.

“He knows he is special. I’ve never been around a horse that knows how good he is as him,” McMullen noted. He loves the camera, that is for sure!”

McMullen will miss Honor Code, just as everyone associated with him will, but for now, Honor Code is all business and working better than he ever has in his career. With the Breeders’ Cup Classic lurking in the near future, Honor Code may be making his swan song a winning one! Although it is uncertain, Honor Code may get to retire with a Classic victory.

Honor Code will enter the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting gate at Keeneland on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. NBC will begin coverage at 4:00 pm ET.