Honor A. P. team on to the next step

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Connections of Honor A. P. are hoping he’ll leave a “great legacy” at stud after his racing career was cut short.

He raced only six times, netting two wins and three runner-up finishes, but his career was ended after he sustained a minor injury in the Kentucky Derby earlier this month.

Honor A. P. started the ‘Run for the Roses‘ as second-favourite behind Tiz The Law in the betting but finished fourth, with Bob Baffert’s Authentic taking the scalp of the Barclay Tagg-trained runner-up.

Honor A. P. ran a Beyer Speed figure of 99 in the Derby, effectively the best in the race as tracking figures showed his wide trip forced him to cover 49 feet more than the winner.

He had won the Santa Anita Derby back in June, decisively accounting for Authentic in that Grade 1 contest and trainer John Shirreffs admits there was a sadness at how things unfolded at Churchill Downs.

“It was a shame that (Ny Traffic) came out and sort of hindered his getting away from the gate,” Shirreffs said. “When he got out of the gate in his last two races, the horses next to him interfered with him.

“He had tremendous potential. It’s disappointing, for sure. But he’s onto a new career [at stud]. Let’s hope he has a great legacy.”

The $850,000 fee paid in 2018 was – at that time – a record fee for an Honor Code yearling. His run in Kentucky Derby gave Sheriffs his best-place finish in that Triple Crown event in 15 years, when he won with 50/1 outsider Giacomo.

The trainer, 75, isn’t getting downbeat on the loss of the talented Honor A. P. as a racehorse. He confirmed the problem was relatively minor but enough to stop the horse being readied for either next month’s Preakness Stakes or the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in November.

For those reasons, the owners were moved to proceed to a career at stud instead. For the veteran trainer, the only option is to keep the wheel turning and attempt to find the next ‘Derby horse’ – something he was actively doing this week.

“I’m looking at a Gun Runner yearling right now here at [the Keeneland Sales]”, he confirmed. “I’m here for the sale for a couple more days.”

Meanwhile, Authentic looks set to face at least five rivals in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Art Collector, Happy Saver, Pneumatic and his own stablemate Thousand Words – a late withdrawal from the Kentucky Derby – are confirmed for the October 3rd race while Mr. Big News (third in the ‘Run for the Roses’) is also heading to Pimlico says trainer Bret Calhoun.

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