December 2, 2013

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – In a strange, slowly run race, Honor Code showed a different dimension and that he has some guts to go with his talent, coming back on Cairo Prince, who had passed him in midstretch, to win Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen Stakes by a nose at Aqueduct.

Cairo Prince, who looked as though he was going to cruise by Honor Code in midstretch, had to settle for second, a half-length in front of the late-running Wicked Strong. Intense Holiday, Master Lightning, Matuszak, Afleet Accompli, and Mental Iceberg completed the order of finish.

The win was the second from three starts for Honor Code, a ridgling by A.P. Indy, who skipped the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after getting beat a neck by Havana in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park. In the Champagne – and in his eye-catching debut win at Saratoga – Honor Code rallied from last. Saturday, Honor Code stalked from second the glacial pace of Master Lightning, who went a half-mile in 52.74 seconds and six furlongs in 1:17.56.

Honor Code made a brief lead in upper stretch before being passed by Cairo Prince outside the eighth pole. However, Honor Code battled back along the inside and got his nose in front at the wire. He covered 1 1/8 miles 1:52.92 and returned $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite.

“He showed a lot of guts to come back and run that strong,” said Shug McGaughey, who trains Honor Code for Will Farish’s Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm. “I’m proud of him. I think the horse that was second is a nice horse. It was kind of a peculiar race.”

Honor Code was ridden by Javier Castellano, who won five races on Saturday’s card including the Grade 2 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies on Stopchargingmaria and the Grade 3 Comely for 3-year-old fillies aboard Wedding Toast.

In the Remsen, Castellano said he sensed the slow pace, but that it was Honor Code who put him in a stalking position entering the backstretch.

“I know he’s a come-from-behind horse, but the pace was slow and the horse wanted to run the first part, I just didn’t want to fight him,” Castellano said. “I just wanted to enjoy the trip.”

Cairo Prince, who had won his first two starts including the Grade 2 Nashua here Nov. 3, was sitting in a good position in third under Luis Saez. In upper stretch, he made a run for the lead, but as he did in the Nashua when he opened up five lengths in midstretch, Cairo Prince began to wait, according to Saez.

“He tried to wait a little bit, you remember last time he opened up five and he stopped a little,” Saez said. “Today, he was doing the same thing.”

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Cairo Prince, had mixed emotions about the race.

“Good horse beat us, that’s for sure, we were wide the whole way but ran great,” McLaughlin said. “We were right there with the winner, we were just a little wide. Unlucky. I thought we were going to win by three.”

McGaughey won this year’s Kentucky Derby with Orb, who won a maiden race on Cigar Mile Day last year. On Sunday, he was to send Honor Code to Payson Park in Florida to begin preparing for a 3-year-old campaign. Honor Code earned 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the Remsen victory and with his second-place finish in the Champagne at Belmont in October has 14 overall.

Orb “made such progress from the first of January to May 4, we’ll just have to see if this horse is going to do the same,” McGaughey said. “I think that’s what really makes a horse that can win the Derby or a Triple Crown race, they got to progress over the winter.”

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