Code of Honor Takes the Stage in Fountain of Youth

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6:20 pm

Earns 50 Kentucky Derby Points

By Dick Downey

Code of Honor and John Velazquez bided their time in fifth place early on, some eight lengths off the pace, but blew by pacesetter Hidden Scroll at the top of the stretch and took it on home to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes. The son of Noble Mission (GB) prevailed by three parts of a length.

Code of Honor, trained by Shug McGaughey and owned by Will Farish, was timed in 1:43.85 for 1 1/16 mile. At 9-1 odds, the winnner returned to his $2 ticket-bearers $21.00 to win, $8.60 to place and $5.40 to show.

Hidden Scroll, ridden by Joel Rosario, led through fast fractions of 22.80, 45.69 and 1:10.42, and it turned out to be too much for him, although he did hang on to finish fourth.

Bourbon War, who was seventh, 10 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile, finished second with a monster late run while guided outside by Irad Oritz, Jr. The distance of the race required using the first of two finish lines, resulting in a shorter stretch, and Bourbon War came up a little short.

Vekoma, with Manny Franco up, finished third by 2 3/4 lengths after being in fourth position early, challenging Hidden Scroll leaving the far turn and then narrowly outrunning that one to the wire.

Meanwhile, after all that, Hidden Scroll was beaten only three lengths. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to fifth finisher Global Campaign.

The top finishers received Kentucky Derby points. Code of Honor, who had four points going in, now has 54, plenty to make the Derby starting gate. Bourbon War is awarded 20 points, Vekoma 10 points and Hidden Scroll five points.

Following those five under the wire were Union's Destiny, Signalman, Everfast, Epic Dreamer, Frosted Grace and Gladiator King.

That last-place finisher was the only horse to try to stay with Hidden Scroll early on. However, that said, he was supposed to finish last after being sent away from the gate at odds of 132-1, and it was unfortunate that Hidden Scroll felt he needed to get into a match with him.

To read the complete history of Code of Honor, please click here, where he's listed on our Looking Good page.

Equibase Chart

Winning trainer Shug McGaughey: “Well, I just thought that I made a couple of mistakes. I thought that I did stuff with him that maybe didn’t need to be done. I thought I had him ready for the real stuff. That didn’t work out, and maybe he just wasn’t ready. After the Mucho Macho Man, I said listen, ‘we’re going train him. If he takes it he takes it,’ and he took it. He was doing good with what we were putting into him so we kept doing it and we felt like he was going to come down here and run well. We saved some ground going around the first turn and he was just patient. We got the set up.”

“There’s obviously three different spots. The Florida Derby would be my preference. We’ve got to ship him an hour and a half down the road. But there is the Wood and Bluegrass. It’s not all the Kentucky Derby. If he takes us there it’ll be fine but we still got to do it again. I would prefer to stay here, but I’m going to see. A couple of them are a little farther down the line, so we’ll see how he comes out of it. We’ll figure it out.”     

Winning jockey John Velazquez: “There was so much speed in the race I was expecting a quick pace in front of us. We broke well, got position into the first turn and we held that position there. Once I was on the backstretch I was very comfortable with the way he was doing things. By the time three-eighths pole I was a little uncomfortable – one horse was kind of backing up and the other one was kind of holding me there. I had to make kind of a premature move around the quarter pole and I got there a little too soon to tell you the truth, but once he got in front he opened up a little bit. This is what we expected of him. Obviously, he came from a long layoff and he probably wasn’t quite ready. We put a lot of work in him and he’s taken it well and he showed us today what kind of horse he is.”

Winning owner William Farish: Unbelievable. It’s simply unbelievable. We’ve known he has the talent, but we’ve had these little hiccups ever since he was second in Saratoga. Today he showed what he had all along and what we’ve saw all along. It’s why he’s had to work him so much coming up to this. It’s just incredible. You go through these things, and all of a sudden it works. This is what he’s always done and he’s a very talented horse. We’ll have to see how he comes out of this. With the works he’s had, we’ll probably back off a little bit after this. We may not do that. We’ll see. There’s no way to tell you what it means. It’s a terrific thing. We’ve been in this business a long time. There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad, but this was a great day.

Bill Mott, trainer of Hidden Scroll: “At the end of the day, he wound up going pretty quick. I was kind of hoping we might be able to lay in behind the 3 horse (Gladiator King), and as it was we were up heads apart the first part. I was kind of hoping to be tucked in behind him but it didn’t work out that way. He ran good. It makes you wonder, well, should we have chosen an easier spot but I guess we felt we wanted to find some things about him today, and we found out we weren’t ready for this. I would have loved to have gone (the first half-mile) in 46 and three and maybe we would have had a little more to finish up with. He got wrapped up in basically kind of a speed duel in a sense with a horse he shouldn’t have been. Anyway, that’s history. We’ll turn the page.”

Joel Rosario, jockey of Hidden Scroll: The trip was fine, but in the beginning he showed too much speed. He did that last time and he stayed on, but going two turns today for the first time he got a little tired in the end.

Mark Hennig, trainer of Bourbon War: “He ran very well. Irad said, ‘I don’t like that first wire.’ He said he kind of had to wait a little at the quarter pole for some room, but he said he didn’t want to ask him and have to check. So he said he waited and waited and he was just humming down the stretch. He’s going to appreciate more ground, that’s for sure.”