Six Months vs. Two Months of Experience
By Dick Downey
Signalman and Hidden Scroll represent two horses entered in the Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes with substantially different resumes. While less-heralded, Code of Honor and Global Campaign offer up their own contrast in experience.
Code of Honor (pictured), trained by Shug McGaughey, entered the Mucho Macho Man Stakes almost two months ago as the odds-on choice based on his resume as a 2-year-old. It didn't take long for that image to go away as he put in a ho-hum performance to finish fourth in the one-turn mile race.
Connections will see if Code of Honor's pedigree lifts him up when going two turns for the first time on Saturday. He was sired by Noble Mission, a multiple Group 1 stakes-winning full brother to undefeated European champion Frankel
“You would think it would help him. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m looking forward to running him two turns,” McGaughey said.
Last year Code of Honor finished second in the Oct. 6 Champagne at Belmont Park, closing from last after a slow start under Eric Cancel to finish three lengths behind front-running favorite Complexity.
“It was a very impressive race. I thought if we had got off good that day, we probably would have put a little pressure on the winner. We wouldn’t have been so far back. I thought they’d be other stuff going with him anyway, but they didn’t. He got kind of hung out to dry,” McGaughey said. “When he stumbled, the kid was patient with him and let him get his feet back under him, and he made a huge move.”
The fact is that Code of Honor had slow starts in his last two races, but McGaughey said he isn’t concerned.
“I think it was just circumstances. He stumbled leaving the gate in the Champagne and I think he got squeezed a little bit here and he kind of rushed up there a little bit, which is probably not what he wants to do,” McGaughey said. “I think we’ll take a little different angle there and just left him run his race Saturday.”
Code of Honor got away from the starting gate very well in his debut at Saratoga last August on his way to a front-running victory.
“He had worked really well. Mark Casse had a horse in there that had finished a good solid second in his first start. I had watched him run. I didn’t know if we could beat him or not but we did,” McGaughey said.
Code of Honor has had a series of seven workouts at Payson Park since his disappointing Mucho Macho Man effort, and McGaughey reports that he is training aggressively for his return to action under John Velazquez.
It took a while for Global Campaign to get to the races, but the lightly-raced son of Curlin is undefeated in two starts, both of them as a 3-year-old. Global Campaign was on schedule to debut last fall in Kentucky but he came up with a bruised foot.
The half-brother to multiple Grade I winner Bolt d’Oro debuted in a seven-furlong maiden special weight Jan. 5 at Gulfstream, winning by 5 3/4 lengths with Luis Saez putting him under wraps.
Trainer Stanley Hough brought back Global Campaign in an entry-level optional claimer on Feb. 9, and he won easily by 2 1/4 lengths, again under a hand ride, in 1:44.29 for the Fountain of Youth distance of 1 1/16 mile. The Fountain of Youth was won in 1:44.17 last year Promises Fulfilled and in 1:44.25 by Gunnevera in 2018.
“He had some little 2-year-old stuff that set him back. It took a while to get him back going again, but he’s a very talented horse,” Hough said. “His first race was very nice, and even his last race, even though the time wasn’t that fast, it was very impressive. Just the way he does things is very impressive.”
Global Campaign has worked twice since his most recent win, going three furlongs in a bullet 36.40 on Feb. 17 and five furlongs in 1:01.85 on Feb. 24. Saez returns to ride from Post 8 in the field of 11 at 116 pounds, six fewer than co-highweights Signalman and Vekoma. Global Campaign 10-1 on the morning line.
“He’s doing really good. It’s going to be a lot tougher,” Hough said. “It’s going to be a very tough race; he’s going to have to get challenged one of these days.”
Hough is a winner of more than 2,000 career races and member of Calder’s Hall of Fame who returned to training last summer after a six-year hiatus. Yet to win the Fountain of Youth, he helped pick Global Campaign out of Keeneland’s 2017 September yearling sale, where he sold for $250,000.
“It’s been good,” Hough said of his return to South Florida. “I’ve been back here right along, but training has been good. We do have some young horses. I was involved with buying them, and we do have some where it’s kind of exciting to see them.”