Trainer Shug McGaughey remains unperturbed despite seeing Code Of Honor drawn in gate ten for Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
Runner-up in the Clark Stakes (G1) and the Kelso (G2) in his last two starts, the experienced five-year-old is loitering near the front of the betting for the 12-runner $3m contest.
The one-mile-one-furlong Pegasus is run at Gulfstream, where the opening turn is a mere 150 yards from the starting gates, putting more emphasis on the draw.
While he admits the draw could have been kinder, McGaughey retains faith in rider Tyler Gaffalione to get into position quickly.
“Well, I’d have rather been more on the inside, but Gaffalione, he knows this racetrack, and I’m not going to let it keep me up tonight,” McGaughey said. “But hopefully, they’ll spread out a little bit and we can kind of get over and save some ground and when he says go, we’ll be in a position to say go?”
Despite concerns over the draw and how the race might set up, McGaughey says his rider will be instructed to try and save ground and come for a late challenge.
“Leave him alone, try to save some ground, hopefully he’ll start kind of picking it up a little bit, engaging himself about the half-mile pole, and don’t move until the 5/16 pole, and see what happens” he declared when asked what instruction would be given to Gaffalione.
“Hopefully we’ll get a little pace, and if we get a clear shot, they’re going to know he’s in there.”
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go heads the market early on for trainer Brad Cox following his track-record win at Keeneland in November.
Code Of Honor and the Danny Gargan-trained Tax are next best in the betting, with Jesus’ Team and the much-travelled Sleepy Eyes Todd close behind.
According to McGaughey, Code Of Honor is ‘about as good as I’ve seen him’ and the trainer is happy with his preparation and his previous course form at Gulfstream.
“He’s ready to go. He’s had two months since he ran, or seven weeks since he ran. I think that’s kind of what he likes. He’s won over this racetrack, he was third in the Florida Derby over it, and I don’t think that’ll be a problem,” he added.
“I’m really confident in Tyler Gaffalione and him knowing the track. And I think that horse is kind of maybe his style of horse and that hell do his homework and see how he wants to run. Like I said, I think they’ll know he’s in there.”