Honor Code posts final BC Classic breeze at Belmont; La Verdad headed to Filly & Mare Sprint
Edited Press Release
Multiple Grade 1 winner Honor Code turned in his final breeze for the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) early Sunday morning at Belmont Park, going four furlongs in :48 under the cover of darkness on the main track.
"He did very well, everything is very good with him," Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said. "We caught him from the three-eighths pole to the mile-and-three-eighths pole in :48, with his last three-eighths in :35 and four. It was pretty dark, which is why we breezed there."
Honor Code won two of the most prestigious races on the NYRA circuit earlier this year – the Metropolitan H. (G1) and Whitney S. (G1) – but enters the Classic off a disappointing third-place finish as the odds-on favorite in the sloppy, one-mile Kelso H. (G2) at Belmont.
The four-year-old A.P. Indy ridgling is likely to meet stiff competition in the October 31 Classic at Keeneland, including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah; Pacific Classic (G1) heroine Beholder; and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) victor Tonalist, who finished second and third behind Honor Code in the Met Mile and Whitney, respectively, and logged his final breeze for the race on Saturday at Belmont.
"All you can do is take him over there and see what happens," McGaughey said. "I couldn't be happier. I wish they were running it today so I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore."
In other Breeders’ Cup news, trainer Linda Rice's Breeders' Cup puzzle looks to be coming together for La Verdad following her 3 3/4-length romp in Saturday's Iroquois S. at Belmont Park.
Rice reported Sunday morning that the five-year-old Yes It's True mare exited her victory in good shape and is now headed to the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) after all.
"It's been a hectic week, trying to evaluate all our options. It's been a very difficult decision, what do with her in the Breeders' Cup," said Rice, who decided to experiment in the Iroquois by trying La Verdad outside of her characteristic front-running style.
"We wanted to let the speed run away from her and see how she would do before we spent the money to run seven furlongs, and it went beautifully," she said. "As she's gotten older, she's rated better. She's more relaxed. She's such a pro and she'll let the speed run away from her.
“It makes me feel better about running her the seven furlongs and (owner Lady) Sheila (Stable) feels better about it too."
Undefeated in six starts this year and set to retire after this season, La Verdad is consigned in the Fasig-Tipton's breeding stock sale in November. As Rice points out, a Breeders' Cup victory would offer a significant boost to her value as a broodmare.
"She's going to move on to her new career soon. Any way you look at it, there's not a lot to lose for her, it's all upside. The only thing she's missing is a Grade 1 and we're going to give her a chance," Rice added.
Rice reported that multiple Grade 1 scorer Palace emerged well from his half-length victory in the Hudson H. but will skip the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1).
The New York-bred son of City Zip will instead be considered for $250,000 Fall Highweight H. (G3) on November 26 at Belmont or the $350,000 Frank de Francis Memorial Dash on November 14 at Laurel Park, his likely swan song before joining the stallion roster at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.
"He's well, it's just been a tough year for him," Rice said. "Last year things went well. This year, we've just had one hiccup after another. He ran great in the Vosburgh but I didn't quite think he was up to the Breeders' Cup competition yet. He won yesterday and we'll move on."
All photos courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography