Florida Derby on Radar, But Time Will Tell
By Dick Downey
As reported earlier today on our Looking Good page, Code of Honor and Bourbon War may meet again the Florida Derby after running one-two in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, both sponsored by Xpressbet.com.
Trainer Shug McGaughey said today that Code of Honor came out of his victory in good shape.
“So far, all systems are go,” said McGaughey. “He seems to have come back fine. We shipped him back last night to Payson, and he seems fine this morning.”
Code of Honor improved significantly off a fourth-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes about two months ago.
“Obviously, I thought about it a lot,” McGaughey said. “I thought from what I saw he probably needed the race and probably, maybe, needed to change his running style just a little bit. We needed to get into him and train him a little harder and more frequent and see if he would take it. We thought, ‘If he takes it, we’ll go on.’ But it was something that came to me pretty quick.”
McGaughey said his preference is to follow the same route as Orb and run next in the Florida Derby on March 30.
“But we’re going to have to see how he bounces out of this one,” he added, saying other nine-furlong Kentucky Derby preps are available if Code of Honor would benefit from more time between races.
“I don’t think distance will be a problem at all,” McGaughey said. “He had a brother who ran two turns in Kentucky, and Noble Mission ran as far as you wanted him to run. He was a mile-and-a-half, mile-and-five-eighths horse. He is a very efficient kind of horse in the way he moves.”
Trainer Mark Hennig said Bourbon War is “bright and very happy” today.
“He came out of it well,” Hennig said. “There were a few things that might have made a difference. Coming off the turn he had to swing just a little wide. But that’s horse racing.”
Hennig is looking forward to Bourbon War's next race, with the colt showing versatility in his last two outings.
“He’s a horse that likes to run. I really liked his stride the last sixteenth. He just lowered his head and he really knew what he wanted,” he said. “I don’t know if you always get that pace set up, but I think he’s proven he doesn’t need a pace set up. If they’re going slower he’ll race a little closer.”
Hennig wants to go next in the Florida Derby, but the Wood Memorial is considered an option. “But we have to see how the horse is doing. He’s also won at Aqueduct,” Hennig said.
Trainer Ken McPeek reported Signalman, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November, is fine after his seventh-place finish.
According to McPeek, the plan is to run next in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6.
The colt, who finished fifth in the Fountain of Youth, grabbed a quarter leaving the gate, and trainer Stanley Hough told DRF Live today that he will need time off. The amount of time wasn't specified.