Coming up to his 2014 seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park, top 3-year-old prospect Honor Code breezed four furlongs March 9 in :47.97 seconds over the main track.
The son of A.P. Indy is to face a small field of four other sophomores in a March 12 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles. It is the eighth race on the Wednesday program with a 4:39 EDT scheduled post time. Trainer Shug McGaughey said he intends to use the race as a gauge to determine if the Remsen Stakes winner is fit enough to run in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby March 29.
Out of action since defeating Cairo Prince by a nose in the Nov. 30 Remsen at Aqueduct Racetack Nov. 30, Honor Code was to school in the Gulfstream paddock Sunday afternoon.
"He worked a half-mile in :48, galloped out in a minute-and-change, I thought he went very well," McGaughey said. "I'd like to see a good race from him. Hopefully, he'll be good enough to win, but as long as we can get the kind of race into him where we feel we can go forward, that'll be good enough."
Owned by Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, Honor Code rallied from way out in his first two starts at 2. He came up the fence en route to a 4 ½-length score in his maiden debut at Saratoga Race Course, and was edged by Havana in the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park in October. In the Remsen, the dark bay was forwardly placed throughout and prevailed gamely over Cairo Prince.
Among Honor Code's rivals in the allowance test is Social Inclusion, who will break from the rail following his impressive debut at Gulfstream Feb. 22.
"I think [Social Inclusion] has got speed, and I would like for [Honor Code] to have a target," McGaughey said. "That's why I wanted to do something sharp with him today, to put him in the game. Hopefully, he'll break well and, even though I want him to have a target, he can't take himself completely out of it."
Jockey Javier Castellano will ride Honor Code, who will carry 124 pounds in his return, five more than Social Inclusion.
McGaughey had originally intended to run Top Billing in the Florida Derby with Honor Code targeted for the Wood Memorial. But Top Billing sustained a cannon bone fracture in his right foreleg during a workout March 8, and there is a chance Honor Code would take his place.
"The Florida Derby is [a] possibility, especially with what happened yesterday," McGaughey said. "It sure would be nice to get a nice, easy race into him [on Wednesday] and he can move forward from it. It might be pushing him up a little bit, but it's not out of the question."
Top Billing, third-place finisher in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes Feb. 22, shipped to Lexington to undergo surgery Sunday.
"He's got a non-displaced cannon bone fracture," McGaughey explained "He got to Kentucky this morning. Dr. [Larry] Bramlage said that he would operate on him at noon today.
"They'll put a couple screws in it and probably a plate, and it should come together. They'll take the plate out, so we're talking about three or four months. [Dr. Bramlage] feels like he should be able to come back fine."