Tuesday, September 24, 2019




Bob Baffert’s Bast looms a complete standout among six  juvenile fillies in Friday’s Grade I, $300,000 Chandelier Stakes, to be contested at 1 1/16 miles over Santa Anita’s main track.  A bay daughter of Uncle Mo, Bast, who was second in her 5 ½ furlong debut, romped by 8 ¾ lengths in the Grade I, seven furlong Del Mar Debutante and it appears all systems are go for her first two turn assignment.

A Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, the Chandelier winner will earn a fees-paid berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, to be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.


Owner:  Baoma Corp.

Trainer:  Bob Baffert

Although ridden by Drayden Van Dyke in both of her Del Mar starts, she’ll be handled on Friday by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, as Van Dyke is coming off an injury and Baffert was uncertain to his status as recently as last week.  Out of the Arch mare Laffina, Bast should have little difficulty stretching out from seven furlongs to a mile and one sixteenth as she continues her march to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here on Nov. 1.


Owner:  Karl Pergola

Trainer:  Jeff Mullins

A non-threatening fourth at 50-1 in her 5 ½ furlong debut Aug. 11, she then stretched out to a flat mile and responded with a 1 ¼ length win at 9-2 on Aug. 29. Although she’s facing a monster in Bast, K P Dreamin does have the advantage of one two turn race and will hope to be in a contending position turning for home under regular rider Ruben Fuentes.


Owner:  KMN Racing LLC

Trainer:  Dan Ward

A California-bred daughter of the Medaglia d’Oro stallion Fast Anna, this KMN homebred was a first-out maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs at Sacramento July 20 and defeated statebreds by 1 ¼ lengths in the six furlong Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 28 when off at 8-1 under Mike Smith, who rides back on Friday.


Race 5 of 9 Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT

Been Studying Her–Mike Smith–122
K P Dreaming–Ruben Fuentes–122
Comical–Abel Cedillo–122
Bast–John Velazquez–122
Buyer’s Remorse–Mario Gutierrez–122
Leucothea–Norberto Arroyo, Jr.–122
First post time for a nine race card on Friday, opening day of Santa Anita’s 23-day Autumn Meet, is at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE. 








Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez has been engaged by Bob Baffert to ride Eight Rings and Bast in the Grade I, $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes and the Grade I, $300,000 Chandelier Stakes opening day this Friday as Santa Anita continues to enhance its historic resume that began on Christmas Day 1934 and will culminate by hosting the Breeders’ Cup for a record 10th time on Nov. 1 and 2.

Velazquez, a 47-year-old Hall of Fame member who is represented by fellow shrine member and Puerto Rican native Angel Cordero Jr. leads all jockeys in career purse earnings with $410,561,486. Johnny V. also will pilot turf sprint specialist Eddie Haskell for trainer Mark Glatt in the Grade II Eddie D. Stakes on opening day.

“I’m flying Johnny V. in to ride because I wasn’t sure Drayden (Van Dyke) would make it back in time to ride my horses,” Baffert said by phone Monday morning. Van Dyke was injured when unseated by Eight Rings after the start of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 2, but has recovered and is expected to resume riding this meet.

Van Dyke had ridden both Eight Rings and Bast in each of their two starts, winning twice. “I asked Johnny V. to ride and he’s doing me a favor and coming in,” Baffert added.

Rosario, 34, a native of the Dominican Republic who earned his stripes in Southern California before going global under the auspices of agent Ron Anderson, is set to ride Hopeful Stakes runner-up Shoplifted for Steve Asmussen in the American Pharoah, like the Chandelier a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race providing the winner with a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, respectively.

Louisiana-born Hernandez, who turns 34 on Nov. 3, rides multiple graded stakes winner Seeking the Soul for trainer Dallas Stewart in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race with a fees-paid berth to the winner for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2.

Also pointing to the Awesome Again are McKinzie, Mike Smith, Draft Pick, Joe Talamo; and Higher Power, Flavien Prat.

Expected for the American Pharoah: American Theorem, Tiago Pereira; Defense Wins, Rafael Bejarano; Eight Rings, John Velazquez; Fore Left, Mario Gutierrez; Shoplifted, Joel Rosario; and Storm the Court, Flavien Prat.

Also on tap for the Chandelier are Doug O’Neill trainees Buyer’s Remorse, Mario Gutierrez, and Comical, Abel Cedillo.

A fitting piece of trivia for the American Pharoah: debut winner American Theorum, trained by George Papaprodromou for owner Rustin Kretz, is a son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, for whom the race is named.

Kretz provides internet marketing services through Scorpion Design, Inc., which he operates in California out of nearby Valencia as well as in Texas. The company designs websites for health care, home service, and automotive businesses and franchises.

First post time on opening day is 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.


Omaha Beach, who had been scheduled to return to the races in the Grade III, one-turn mile Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept. 28, now is being pointed to the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship after a training snafu last Friday.

“Simply put, the work got messed up and I’m not taking him to Kentucky off a long layoff, so I scrapped that idea, period, and I’m going to run him in the Sprint. I didn’t want to ship him unless everything was perfect,” trainer Richard Mandella said early Monday morning.

The Sprint is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event at six furlongs on Oct. 5.

Omaha Beach was the pre-race favorite for the Kentucky Derby last May 4 but an entrapped epiglottis during the week leading into the classic forced the son of War Front to be scratched and he hasn’t raced since. 

Omaha Beach’s work was aborted after a furlong when a horse in front of him lost its rider forcing Omaha Beach to pull up. He galloped around the track, then broke off again at the six furlong pole, working a furlong past the finish in 1:27.20 in company with Charlito.

“I think he’ll be perfect in time for the Sprint,” Mandella continued. “He’ll have a nice work before the race in a few days.”


Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Flavien Prat hopes to continue 2019’s wild ride when Santa Anita begins its 23-day Autumn Meet this Friday.

The 27-year-old Frenchman piloted Higher Power to a 9-1 upset by 5 ¼ lengths in the Pacific Classic when he rode him competitively for the first time, and will be back aboard in the Awesome Again Stakes for John Sadler and Hronis Racing.

“It was a good run,” Prat said in recounting Del Mar’s marquee race. “He broke well and he put me in the race. There wasn’t a lot of pace so we were in a good spot. When we entered the turn he kind of jumped on the bridle and he took me from there.

“I worked him yesterday (six furlongs in a bullet 1:13 flat) so I’m quite excited.”

Added Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson: “Winning the Pacific Classic and the Del Mar title was a lot of fun for us. This year has marked a major stepping stone for Flavien, winning the Derby and the Pacific Classic.

“Winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic would top off a super year.”


With surprising stakes victories by City of Light and Ohio on his resume, Michael McCarthy hopes to add to his list of Grade I upsets with Paved in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 “Win and You’re In” Rodeo Drive stakes Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ¼ miles on turf.

“She was beaten a short ways in the Rodeo Drive as a three-year-old in her third race off a layoff,” the trainer pointed out, alluding to her second by a half-length behind win machine Vasilika last Sept. 29. “Right now I don’t think I could ask her to be doing any better.”

A four-year-old Quality Road filly, Paved was third beaten two lengths in the restricted Osunitas at Del Mar on July 19, her first race in nearly seven months, followed by a fourth in the Grade II John C.  Mabee on Aug. 31.

Also in the race are Elysea’s World, Flavien Prat, and Siberian Iris, Rafael Bejarano.


Santa Anita has installed a new state-of-the-art LED Infield video board, which will offer viewers dramatically improved brightness and visual clarity beginning on opening day.

Manufactured and installed by Daktronics, America’s leading manufacturer of outdoor LED (light-emitting diode) boards, this new 30′ x 54′ display contains 648,000 total 15 mm pixels, the optimum size for a board of this scope, ensuring an improved view of the races and all video content throughout the race day.

Due to the breadth of this project, the previous board was removed in August and the new board was installed last month while the Santa Anita stable area was closed.

Based in Brookings, South Dakota, Daktronics employs 2,500 people and parts are made in the USA. Daktronics is the preferred vendor for 21 of 31 NFL stadiums and 22 of 30 Major League Baseball parks throughout the United States.

Santa Anita will also be offering fans other major new amenities, such as its Stretch Run Suites and Trackside Terrace Dining and Seating, at a cost of more than $5 million.

FINISH LINES: There were 190 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Monday, including 31 on the training track. Victor Espinoza worked Anonymity, never out of the money in nine starts, five furlongs in a bullet 59 flat. Richard Mandella is pointing the five-year-old mare to the Grade III LA Woman Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs Oct. 5 . . . Santa Oaks winner Bellafina, fourth in the Cotillion at Parx last Saturday, will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 2, trainer Simon Callaghan said . . . Congrats to apprentice Jorge Velez on winning four races yesterday at Los Alamitos to clinch the title with 13 victories. It marked the fifth time agent Nelson Arroyo has represented a rider who won the crown at the Cypress track, also calling shots for previous winner Heriberto Figueroa . . . Trainer Andrew Lerner captured three races at Los Al over the weekend, two owned in partnership by newcomers Alydom Racing. Lerner, 30, is a rising presence in California. He had 18 horses after starting out a year ago but now is up to 44 head . . .  Fasig-Tipton presents its California Fall Yearling sale at Fairplex Park in Pomona this Thursday at 12 noon. For further information, visit info@fasigtipton.com/fasigtipton.com.



Draft Pick (Eurton) 9/22/19

Mongolian Groom (Ganbat) 9/22/19

Neptune’s Storm (Outside) (Baltas) 9/22/19

Eight Rings (American Pharoah) and American Anthem (Baffert) 9/22/19

Omaha Beach (Mandella) 9/20/19 (Santa Anita Sprint Championship)

Roadster (Baffert) 9/19/19

Pantsonfire (Baltas) 9/18/19 (Rodeo Drive)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Omaha Beach

Whether it's May or September, Omaha Beach just can't seem to make the Churchill Downs starting gate. The Arkansas Derby (G1) winner, scratched from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) as the morning-line favorite, has been withdrawn from consideration for the Sept. 28 Ack Ack Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. 

He is now pointed toward the Oct. 5 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella told Churchill publicity Sept. 21.

Medallion Racing
"His workout yesterday got very messed up, and I needed that to be good in order to run him next week in Kentucky," Mandella said via text. "I decided to stay here and just run him in the (Sprint Championship) Oct. 5."

Omaha Beach breezed seven furlongs in 1:27 1/5 Sept. 20 at Santa Anita, handily outfinishing workmate Charlito but recording a time more than two seconds slower than his previous drill Sept. 13. The breeze was his seventh since returning to training following a procedure to correct an entrapped epiglottis, the physical setback that necessitated his Derby scratch.

The epiglottis is a triangular-shaped cartilage that lies at the airway just in front of the arytenoid cartilages that cover the airway during swallowing. When an abnormality occurs, it can hinder breathing and performance.

Owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, Omaha Beach won three consecutive races this spring to vault into the Derby picture. Besides the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, he took a division of the Rebel Stakes (G2) and a maiden race at Santa Anita. A 3-year-old son of War Front  out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, he has a record of 3-3-1 from seven starts and earnings of more than $1.12 million.

At six furlongs, the Santa Anita Sprint Championship would mark the shortest race of Omaha Beach's career. The race provides a "Win and You're In" berth to the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

According to Churchill Downs assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork, runners still expected for the one-mile Ack Ack include Air Strike, Mr Darcy, Mr. Jagermeister, and Thirstforlife. The defection of Omaha Beach could lead to an expansion of the field that will be drawn Sept. 25. 

Cotillion Stakes 2019 (FULL RACE) | NBC Sports

Pennsylvania Derby 2019


Capote Stakes at Los Alamitos

Raging Whiskey Scores Black Type for Bourbon Courage
Colt took the Capote Stakes at Los Alamitos by eight lengths.

Raging Whiskey became the first black-type winner for Bourbon Courage  when he wired the field in the Sept. 21 Capote Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course. 

Trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the 2-year-old colt broke on top, sped to the lead, and dictated the pace. 

Daily Insights
Setting fractions of :21.55 and :44.56 through the half mile, Raging Whiskey shifted three wide at the top of the stretch and kicked it into high gear. The bay colt crossed the wire eight lengths ahead.

The final time for the 6 1/2-furlong sprint was 1:15.61 over a track rated fast. 

Campaigned by Pappas Horse Racing and Charles Bartlett, Raging Whiskey was bred in Maryland by Finn's Nickel and Anchor & Hope Farm. He is the fourth foal out of the Quiet American mare Fullerene and was graded stakes-placed this year when third in the July 13 Sanford Stakes (G3) at Saratoga Race Course. 

Consigned last year by Stuart Morris to The October Sale, Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky fall yearling sale, Raging Whiskey was purchased for $25,000 by The Quarter Company. He was offered by TIP Thoroughbred Investment Possibilities to the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where he was a $120,000 RNA. 

Bred in Kentucky by Oscar and Eloise Penn, Bourbon Courage was consigned by the Penns in 2010 to The July Sale, Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky selected yearlings sale. He was purchased for $15,000 by McMahon Bloodstock.

The son of Lion Heart raced for McMahon & Hill Bloodstock's Bourbon Lane Stable racing partnership and won or placed in nine graded stakes on his way to earning $1,129,187. Bourbon Courage won the Super Derby (G2), was runner-up in the Donn Handicap (G1), and finished third in the Clark Handicap (G1) and Cigar Mile Handicap (G1).

Monday, September 16, 2019

Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. guides Decorated Invader to victory in Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine on Sunday, September 15, 2019 

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. piloted both winners of Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races at Woodbine, but one was a lot easier than the other. While Decorated Invader was in a league of his own in the $189,103 Summer (G1), the filly Abscond had to call on all of her battling qualities to prevail in a Natalma (G1) photo. Thus Decorated Invader is likely to attract more backers going into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) than Abscond in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman and William Sandbrook’s Decorated Invader was making his stakes debut in the wake of a terrific maiden win at Saratoga, and accordingly ranked as the 2-1 second choice. The Christophe Clement pupil wasn’t quick into stride as he and Irish shipper Vitalogy bumped out of the gate, but it was soon clear that Ortiz had a handful of horse.

Up front, Keep on Truckin flashed speed in the opening strides before suddenly dropping back. It was the 109-1 Cadet Connelly who controlled the tempo through fractions of :24.26, :48.43, and 1:13.08 on a course labeled yielding. Mystic Lancelot, the 2-1 favorite, chased before fading, possibly affected by hitting the gate at the start.

Cadet Connelly, in defiance of his exorbitant odds, was not stopping down the stretch. But Decorated Invader was on the march, and once Ortiz got him in gear, the son of Declaration of War put his rivals away handily. Opening up by 1 3/4 lengths, Decorated Invader clocked the mile in 1:36.34.

Vitalogy, who had to angle around the winner for room, finished well in third and just failed to catch runner-up Cadet Connelly by a head. With a clearer passage, Vitalogy arguably would have taken second. Proven Strategies was another head away in fourth, followed by Pleasecallmeback, Talking, Cucina, Zoological, Mystic Lancelot, and Keep on Truckin. Secret Stash was scratched in favor of the Natalma.

Decorated Invader advanced his record to 3-2-1-0, $180,375. The bay showed promise in his Spa debut, rallying late for second to Field Pass, who subsequently placed second in the With Anticipation (G3). Decorated Invader learned from that experience to win handsomely in his second try, and the Summer marked another step forward.

“We were just looking for him to relax in the first part of the race and then let him run in the end,” Ortiz told Woodbine publicity. “We know he can run so we just want to relax him and teach him the first part.

“He’s only had three races so I think he’s getting better and better. Today, I really liked the way he did it. He was floating in a little bit in the stretch – he always does – but hopefully he learns and if he just keeps a little more straight in the stretch that would be great. He keeps learning.”

ZESTFUL wins the LOS ALAMITOS SPECIAL going away!! 9-15-19

Zestful Los Alamitos Special.

Zestful much the best in Los Alamitos Special

Zestful drew off for a six-length victory in Sunday's Los Alamitos Special.
Zestful, who ran in an $8,000 claimer in February, won his stakes debut in his 24th start Saturday’s $100,000 Los Alamitos Special at 1 1/4 miles as the second betting choice in a field of five.

2019 Summer Stakes

2019 Natalma Stakes

Friday, August 30, 2019


Del Mar's Bing Crosby Racing Season Returns Nov. 8 - Dec. 1
The 15-day fall meet features two free concerts, delectable food and drink events and top Thoroughbred racing

Ladies, grab your hats and gents grab your bow ties— Del Mar’s fall racing season is almost here! Successfully wrapping up its milestone 80th summer season, the iconic Del Mar racetrack is looking ahead to its fall meet, known as the Bing Crosby Season. The excitement kicks off on Friday, Nov. 8 and will run through Sunday, Dec. 1. Over the course of the 15-day meet, Del Mar will come alive with high stakes competition, signature seasonal events and must-see free concerts. 

Bing Crosby Season begins with an action-packed opening weekend starting with Friday’s Opening Day. The following day, Del Mar will delight wine enthusiasts with Uncorked: Derby Days Wine Fest—where racetrack guests can sip and savor while watching the day’s races. The wine festival will feature more than 150 wines and champagnes from across the globe, gourmet food trucks, live music and more. Purchase VIP and general admission experiences at UncorkedWineFestivals.com. Following the final race of the day, famed country singer-songwriter Russell Dickerson will take the stage for a free concert, presented by San Diego County Toyota Dealers.

The following Saturday, Nov. 16, Del Mar will host its annual College Day. All college students can enjoy free track admission, live music from Red Bull DJs and food and drink specials simply by showing their student ID. The evening wraps on a high note with a concert by The Wailers, the famed reggae band formed by the remaining members of Bob Marley & The Wailers, presented by Patrón.

Del Mar’s Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, Nov. 23, will offer 100 samples of local and international craft brews making for the perfect thirst-quenching day at the track. Del Mar will kick-off the holiday-giving season on Sunday, Nov. 24, with its annual Del Mar Toys for Tots Toy Drive in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps, where guests can receive free admission by bringing an unwrapped toy to the track. Cash or check donations also will be accepted by uniformed Marines and sailors on hand manning the “Toys” collection boxes.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends at Del Mar! On Thursday, Nov. 28, guests can partake in the Family Mile Fun Run—a special turkey trot around the track—at 8 a.m. Participants, including several jockeys, will “break” from the starting gate and run one lap around the racetrack. Once runners cross the finish line, they can pose for photos in the winner’s circle. Following the Fun Run, the Helen Woodward Animal Center will host a Puppy Races Rescue Run, aimed to offer pets for adoption. The day’s Thoroughbred races start early with an 11 a.m. post time, so attendees can get home in time for dinner, or, they can leave the cooking to Del Mar and enjoy the track’s annual Thanksgiving Brunch—a fun holiday tradition that includes racetrack admission, a Turf Club table and a delicious brunch menu or turkey dinner with all the traditional trimmings. 

Harry Potter fans will flock to the seaside oval the final weekend of the fall meet for The Wizards Fair, a celebration of all things magic and a chance for Harry Potter fans to come together and celebrate, Saturday, Nov. 30. Dressing up is encouraged, so fans should dawn their favorite robe, cloak, or uniform and set off on a wild adventure at Del Mar. There will be two stages of live music featuring wizard rock bands and DJs, including San Diego’s own DJ Dumbledore. Explore the Enchanted Market Place, full of magical shops and vendors, and the Grand Hall, full of cosplay characters and tons of photo opportunities. Tickets are $20, and includes racetrack admission. All ages welcome. Del Mar’s Holiday at the Races: A Pop-up Festival on Sunday, Dec. 1, will offer holiday boutique shopping and pop-up shops, complimentary mini-spa and mini-glam treatments and beauty vendors, happy hour ½-off signature drinks until 2 p.m., a wagering seminar, holiday activities and more. Racing for 2019 at Del Mar will conclude on Sunday, Dec. 1.

Every Saturday throughout the Bing Crosby Season early morning risers can enjoy breakfast and take in amazing track views as Thoroughbreds go through their morning workouts at Daybreak at Del Mar from 8 – 10 a.m. Racing analyst Michelle Yu will host an interactive Q&A session during the workouts to provide insight and fun facts about everything horseracing. 

In addition to free concerts and exciting races, Del Mar offers unmatched value with Free & Fun Sundays, where guests receive free track admission and seating, along with $5 Cardiff Crack tri-tip sliders and $6 16 oz. Coors Lights. Happy hour specials also will be offered every Sunday until 2 p.m. featuring half-priced signature cocktails. Brunch lovers can celebrate with a decadent day at Taste of the Turf Club. Tickets include a creative menu from Herb & Wood Chef Brian Malarkey, a table in the Turf Club and bottomless mimosas, Chandon or Del Mary’s.  

After opening week, racing during the Bing Crosby Season will take place Thursday through Sunday. First post will be 12:30 p.m., daily, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day when first post will be 11 a.m. Admission at all gates is $6. Both concerts are 18 and up and free with paid racetrack admission prior to the last race. For concertgoers entering after the day’s final race, admission is $30. Performances begin shortly after the last race of the day.

Quit Kvetching

Doubledown Stables’ lightly-raced Quit Kvetching, piloted by Drayden Van Dyke, swept to the front while four-wide entering the stretch and went on to score an easy victory in Del Mar’s feature race Thursday, a 6 ½ furlong sprint for older California-bred fillies and mares.

In only the third start of her career, the Ron Ellis-trained Quit Kvetching tallied by three and one-half lengths in 1:17.26. D’s Lovely Sophia, the 3-2 favorite, was second, with Ruby Bradley third in the field of six runners. Dreamy Gal and Takethediamondlane were scratched.

Quit Kvetching, a daughter of Smiling Tiger, went postward the 5-2 second choice and returned $7.60, $3.40 and $2.20. The chestnut filly was a winner in her career debut in early July and then ran fourth at Del Mar in an optional-allowance race early this month.

D’s Lovely Sophia returned $3 and $2.20, while Ruby Bradley paid $2.60 to show.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Derby Dozen for BloodHorse

Having covered the Triple Crown races in one form or another for the past 32 years, including writing the features Derby Doings for Daily Racing Form and the Derby Dozen for BloodHorse, I can state emphatically that I cannot remember a horse maturing physically and mentally and turning into a polished professional as quickly as Code of Honor.

And it all came to fruition Aug. 24 in the Travers Stakes when the boy officially turned into a man.

The victory of Code of Honor fit perfectly into the continuing strange saga of this year’s crop of 3-year-olds, and proved once again that when it comes to horses, there are no experts, and even the most astute horsemen often have trouble judging a horse on what he may become rather than what he is as a yearling or young 2-year-old.

That is why a horse named Maximum Security, sired by a champion and owned by one of the top owners and breeders in the country, can make his career debut in a $16,000 claiming race and go unclaimed and then finish first in the Kentucky Derby (only to be disqualified) and win the Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational.

It is why a horse named Tax, owned and bred by the powerful team of Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, winds up in a $30,000 claiming race first time out and goes unclaimed. Going to the claiming well once again he finally gets snatched for $50,000 and wins the Jim Dandy Stakes, Withers Stakes, and finishes second in the Wood Memorial and third in the Remsen Stakes.

It is why a horse named Sir Winston fails to meet his modest $50,000 reserve at the Keeneland September yearling sale, is bought back by his breeder Tracy Farmer, and winds up winning the Belmont Stakes.

And now we have a slightly built, immature late foal who is bred by powerhouse Lane’s End Farm, gets put in the Keeneland September yearling and has no takers, failing to meet his $70,000 reserve. So Lane’s End takes Code of Honor home, races him and wins the Travers Stakes with him, as well as the historic Dwyer Stakes and Fountain of Youth Stakes, and gets moved up to second in the Kentucky Derby on the disqualification of Maximum Security.

It appears as if the proverbial crystal ball was a bit cloudy this year with a number of future stars there for the taking at a dirt cheap price, but unwanted for one reason or another.

In the case of Code of Honor, he was a late foal, born May 23, and was immature both physically and mentally. But according to Bill Farish of Lane’s End Farm, he was an efficient mover and everyone at Courtlandt Farm in Ocala where he was broken liked him very much.

So why did Lane’s End Farm try to sell this colt by the great Frankel’s full brother Noble Mission, a son of megastud Galileo?

Lane’s End sales director Allaire Ryan had all the reasons at her fingertips in the form of written comments she made about the colt when he was a yearling. Of course, the May 23 foaling date alone turned many buyers off. Although he was a medium to good-sized colt and well balanced with a quality head and eye and was light on his feet, he was narrow up front and toed out a bit and didn’t have a lot of bone. So in short, he was not what you would call a robust colt.

But there were other positives. Mainly he was very well made mechanically and was extremely easy on himself, according to Ryan, who added, “He always was aware of his surroundings, continued to move forward, and he had a high energy level.” Basically, he was a feel-good horse.

Unfortunately, or as it turned out, fortunately, he was never once scoped at the sale, so the writing was on the wall. This was a colt in which no one was interested. William Farish, founder of Lane’s End Farm, has always been known for setting fair reserves. He offered a high quality colt at a very affordable price, but wound up taking him back, breaking him at Courtlandt Farm, and racing him.

The colt was a farm favorite, and everyone at Lane’s End was encouraged when trainer Shug McGaughey’s assistant Robbie Medina mentioned how much the colt loved to train. As Ryan said, “His athleticism and personality were bigger than he was and he was always known here as the Little Big Horse.”

After spending time at Fair Hill, where he had a couple of breezes, he was sent to McGaughey’s barn at Saratoga.

“He didn’t exactly blow us away stepping off the van,” said McGaughey’s son and assistant, Reeve. But they saw he was a good mover and came to them with a good reputation.

A week later they gave him his first breeze at the track. Reeve recalled how he crawled the first eighth in :14 and change or even :15. Reeve and Medina looked at each other wondering what was going on. But just then he took off, rattling off eighths in :11 and change and :12. He covered the half-mile in :48 flat and went to the wire and galloped out in :24 flat. That’s when they knew they had a talented colt.

He showed it by winning his career debut and doing it wire-to-wire at odds of 6-1. That was something you don’t see too often from a McGaughey-trained horse, who usually come along slowly.

In fact, Bill Farish said the last McGaughey-trained horse to win first time out was the Lane’s End (with partners)-owned Honor Code, but he came from 22 lengths back going seven furlongs, not wire-to-wire going six furlongs. So this was unusual.

You also don’t expect McGaughey to throw a 2-year-old with one six-furlong race into the one-mile, grade 1 Champagne Stakes against many of the top juveniles in the country. Code of Honor rallied from 10th to finish second to the Chad Brown speedball Complexity in a sharp 1:34 3/5, one of the fastest Champagnes ever. Despite stumbling twice coming out of the gate, he still flew home, and his “3 3/4” Thoro-Graph number stamped him as a horse with a promising future.

He had a perfect blend of dirt, grass, speed, and stamina. To demonstrate how you can turn him on and off, he breezed a slow five furlongs in 1:03 for the Champagne a week after breezing a half in a bullet :46 flat, fastest of 60 works at the distance, and, again, you normally don’t see a McGaughey 2-year-old work that fast.

Code of Honor’s sire, the English-bred Noble Mission, is a son of the great Galileo and a full brother to Frankel, and his two paternal grandsires, Sadler’s Wells and Danehill are pretty much responsible for the Coolmore dynasty well before the emergence of Galileo. Sadler’s Wells, his son Galileo, and Danehill have sired an amazing 1,000 stakes winners among them, including over 230 group/grade 1 winners. Code of Honor’s broodmare sire, Dixie Union was a grade 1 winner who sired Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and has always been a favorite of Will Farish. Code of Honor gets his speed from his dam’s female family through Mt. Livermore, Bold Forbes, Irish Castle, Faneuil Hall, and Bolinas Boy. All this speed works beautifully with the abundance of stamina in his sire’s pedigree.

That is why he could win his career debut wire to wire and then come from 10th and last to finish second in the Champagne.

Code of Honor was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after spiking a fever, which may have been the best thing for him, as he was able to gear down and prepare for the arduous Derby trail.

A dull fourth-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at 4-5 was a head scratcher, but he came right back to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes, this time at odds of 9-1. However, he still didn’t look like the horse who closed like a rocket in the Champagne, as he crawled home his final sixteenth in :07 seconds after a sluggish :26 2/5 quarter, and just lasted over the fast-closing Bourbon War.

On the positive side, he did show good acceleration on the turn and left himself with room for improvement. A lack of pace hurt him in the Florida Derby and he could finish no better than third behind the runaway winner Maximum Security. As talented as he might have been, he had run greenly all winter and spring, whether it was drifting a bit down the stretch or easing himself after getting a lead.  

But you could see him start to blossom after going to Keeneland and working brilliantly with the rider's feet in the dashboard early and the way he hugged the rail on both turns, cornering beautifully. This was the first indication that perhaps he was starting to put it all together and was ready for a peak effort on the first Saturday in May.

In the Kentucky Derby he made a big move along the rail and looked like a winner turning for home after sticking his head in front, but wasn’t able to sustain it after eventual winner Maximum Security came in on him. When Maximum Security was disqualified for interference (not involving Code of Honor), Code of Honor was moved up from third to second.

McGaughey shortened him up for the one-mile Dwyer Stakes and the transformation was remarkable, as Code of Honor settled in last, waited to make his move, and then blew his opponents away with a sensational :23 1/5 final quarter, bursting to the lead and drawing off to a 3 1/4-length score, despite a wide trip and jockey John Velazquez losing his whip.

McGaughey had contemplated coming back in the Jim Dandy Stakes as a prep for the Travers, but decided to give him time and train up to the race. It proved to be a smart move considering his negative-1/2 Thoro-Graph number made him the fastest horse going into the Travers and the only horse in the field to run a negative number.

The new-look Code of Honor once again overpowered his opponents, rallying from ninth to win going away by three lengths, and his time of 2:01 flat was the second-fastest Travers in the past 27 years, behind only Arrogate’s record-breaking performance in 2016. That was reflected in his lofty 105 Beyer speed figure and 108 Equibase Speed Figure. There was no doubt now that Code of Honor had come of age.

So, now it is on to the Jockey Club Gold Cup against older horses and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There is no telling how good this colt is now. The Little Big Horse who no one was interested in for the bargain basement price of $70,000 has grown into a man, and there is nothing little about him any longer.


1—McKinzie Bob Baffert Extremely talented, but best efforts have come from 7 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Home track should help and Baffert is always dangerous at Santa Anita.
2—Code of Honor Shug McGaughey He has developed into a powerful closer and is proven at 1 1/4 miles. Just keeps getting better and possesses brilliant turn of foot.
3—Thunder Snow Saeed bin Suroor Another who has excelled at 1 1/4 miles, but ran bang-up race in Met Mile. Runs hard every race and game as they come.
4—Yoshida Bill Mott Has a chance to stamp himself as a major force in the Classic with a big effort in Woodward Stakes. Loves Saratoga and should be flying late.
5—Higher Power John Sadler If the Pacific Classic is a true indicator of who he really is then he is going to take a lot of beating in the Classic. But the competition will be much tougher.
6—Vino Rosso Todd Pletcher He has already traveled west and emerged victorious in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, so he does have an advantage over the other Eastern shippers. Woodward will tell us a lot.
7—Preservationist Jimmy Jerkens Throw out his Whitney performance after extremely questionable ride. Woodward should show whether his sensational Suburban score was the real him.
8—Tacitus Bill Mott One of these days he is going to put it all together. After productive spring he keeps finding ways to get beat. Still ran a big second in the Travers despite very odd trip.
9—Gift Box John Sadler Has a gutsy win over McKinzie in the Big Cap, but still has not worked since July 13. Plenty of foundation and needs to get only one prep in. But time is now to get started.
10—Seeking the Soul Dallas Stewart Obviously did not run his race at Del Mar and we’ll see how he rebounds back east.We know he has the class and the closing kick.
Catholic Boy was dropped from the Top 10 this week until we find out just how minor or major a setback he suffered that caused him to withdraw from the Woodward Stakes. Another Top 10 horse, Hofburg, has been sent to the farm and his immediate future is 
uncertain, but the Breeders’ Cup obviously is out. The next big test will be the September 21 Pennsylvania Derby, which could feature Maximum Security, Mr. Money, and possibly Improbable.   


1—Midnight Bisou Steve Asmussen Classy 3-year-old but has turned into a winning machine at 4.
2—Elate Bill Mott Runs her heart out every time, Just nipped at wire in Personal Ensign.
3—Dunbar Road Chad Brown Alabama winner developing quickly and should keep improving.
4—Guarana Chad Brown CCA Oaks score not as brilliant as Acorn tour de force, but will take world of beating in Cotillion.
5—Secret Spice Richard Baltas Tough defeats in Clement Hirsch and La Troienne, but ran huge to win Beholder Mile at Santa Anita.
6—Ollie’s Candy John Sadler Gutsy winner of Clement Hirsch
7—Wow Cat Chad Brown Classier than Personal Ensign 4th. Deserves another chance.
8—Point of Honor George Weaver Black-eyed Susan winner couldn’t handle Guarana and Dunbar Road in last two. Strong stretch runner.
9—Blue Prize Ignacio Correas Listed stakes score at Spa first since last year’s Spinster victory.
10—Escape Clause Don Schnell Right there against the best, beaten a nose by Midnight Bisou in Apple Blossom and second to Elate in Delaware Handicap.
Waiting to see how impressive Shuvee winner Golden Award is doing after being eased in Personal Ensign Stakes.

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