McGaughey non-committal on Breeders’ Cup plan

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Shug McGaughey
May 2, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Shug McGaughey, trainer of Kentucky Derby entry Code of Honor talks with reporters during morning workouts at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Trainer Shug McGaughey will assess Code Of Honor after he runs in the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont Park on October 3rd before making any firm decisions about the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The trainer has saddled nine winners at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the past, though he has yet to land the Classic.

Code Of Honor would appear to have fine claims amongst the class of 2020 but the trainer isn’t yet ready to commit to the race.

It is firmly in his mind but he wants to see Code Of Honor on the racetrack one more time before any decision is made.

“[The Breeders’ Cup Classic] would be a nice thought, but we’ll have to wait and see how we do [at Belmont], kind of evaluate what we want to do,” McGaughey said. “Hopefully, he’ll run really well, and that would be the next start. But we just have to wait and see.”

The Breeders’ Cup Classic is at Keeneland on November 7th, ensuring McGaughey would have ample time to prepare Code Of Honor should things go to plan at Belmont.

Code Of Honor was second in last year’s Kentucky Derby and has pieced together an excellent campaign in a protracted 2020 season so far.

He won the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont in early June on his return to action and has since finished third and fourth in Grade 1 company in the Met Mile and Whitney Stakes.

McGaughey says he’s been ‘doing good’ after a break following his latest start on August 1st.

He’ll be making a jockey change at Belmont in the Kelso, with regular rider Johnny Velazquez committed to riding in the Preakness on the same date.

“I backed off of him [after the Whitney], and I just said we’re going to start over again with him,” McGaughey added. “And he had a really good work [on Tuesday] with Javier Castellano, who’s going to ride him because Johnny (Velazquez) is at the Preakness. But he was very pleased with the work, as I was, and we’ll just go from there.”

McGaughey meanwhile confirmed that it’s a patient approach with Performer, the son of Speightstown not seen since winning all four starts in 2019. He’s in training and ran a nice bit of work at Belmont over four-furlongs recently but, as yet, no plans have been made for a resumption of his racing career.

“I’m going to pretty much just let him tell me,” McGaughey said. “But he had a really good work here the other day. I’d like to find an allowance race for him. He hasn’t run in close to a year. Try to give him a chance without overdoing it, and then let him take us from there also.”

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