Trainer Shug McGaughey feels that the ‘push-button’ speed possessed by Code Of Honor gives him the chance to succeed over a variety of trips.
This weekend’s Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park is the impending target for Code Of Honor, who pleased his connections with a half-mile workout on the main track at the course on Monday.
Winner of the Westchester Stakes at Belmont on his seasonal return, victory in Saturday’s feature would net Code Of Honor the bulk of the $1.2million pot on offer and also secure a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup in November.
The ‘Met Mile’ winner is assured a run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Already a multiple Grade 1 winner, Code Of Honor launched his new campaign when winning the Westchester at Belmont, his first outing since a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic won by Vino Rosso back in November.
“Obviously off a layoff you never know what’s going to happen, but he trained well and we were pleased with the way he ran,” trainer McGaughey said of that run.
The Noble Mission colt needed just 49.73 seconds on a surface rated good to run his half-mile stretch on Monday. Last week, he impressed connections with a speedy five-furlong dash in 1:00.50 when the track was rated fast.
Those pieces of work have left the trainer optimistic that his charge is right on track for the Met Mile.
“I thought he worked excellent,” McGaughey added. “He went off easy and finished up good, galloped out the next eighth (of a mile) good, and seemed to come back good. As of right now we’re on track.”
Code of Honor will be dropping back in trip to a mile for first time since the Mucho Macho Man Stakes in January 2019. His trainer is bullish that he has the speed to ensure it’s not an inconvenience.
“He’s the kind when you push the button he’s there,” McGaughey said. “So I don’t think that (the distance) will be a problem.”
Mr Freeze is also in the mix for Met Mile glory and he had a workout at Churchill Downs on Monday, prior to his departure for New York.
Trainer Dale Romans feels the five-year-old is ready to perform and he’s already a winner of the graded Gulfstream Park Mile this season.
The Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes had been considered as an option for Mr Freeze but his trainer is rolling the dice in the Met Mile; knowing what a win would mean for his charge.
“The Met Mile makes a stallion. I think he needs the help to be a stallion and I think he deserves to be one, and he’s so brilliant at a mile,” Romans said.