Promising filly Code Warrior beats the boys in Golden Nugget

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November 8th, 2015

J.C. Racing Stable’s Code Warrior remained unbeaten from two starts when defeating males in Saturday’s $52,255 Golden Nugget at Golden Gate Fields.

And she’s a feel-good story too. Ridden by Anne Sanguinetti and owned by her parents, John and Chris Sanguinetti, Code Warrior is trained by Manny Badilla, longtime assistant to the late Bill Morey Jr. Badilla became a trainer in his own right after Morey passed away in April, and Code Warrior became his first ensuing winner when romping in her August 28 unveiling.

“It was great. It was far out, even,” Badilla told Golden Gate publicity following her seven-length maiden conquest. “We expected to win. We already knew. We couldn’t wait for this race to finally get here. This is just the beginning with this filly.

“Bill is looking down on us giving his thumbs up right now. I told Annie (Sanguinetti) that this filly was being trained the Bill Morey way and (Jerry) Hollendorfer way. I put it together with two of my favorite trainers. Hollendorfer is a good friend of mine, and I respect him a lot, but Bill was the greatest teacher I could have ever worked for.”

Badilla’s plan was to test Code Warrior in allowance company as a prep for the November 28 Golden Gate Debutante, but the intended race didn’t fill. He accordingly decided to pitch her into the Golden Nugget as a stepping stone.

“One of the reasons why we need to run now is that we need to stay fit to keep running,” the trainer said Thursday. “It’s been two months between (her debut and the Golden Nugget). We’ve nominated her for other races, but we want to keep her on the Tapeta for as long as possible.”

The change of plan worked to Code Warrior’s benefit in the end, for she advertised her ability in the manner of an interesting prospect. Sent off as the 9-5 favorite, Code Warrior was preferred to such rivals as Emerald Downs shipper Gold Rush Dancer, who just aired in the Gottstein Futurity, and dual winner Algenon, runner-up to unbeaten Smokey Image in the Cavonnier Juvenile.

Algenon, the mount of Russell Baze, rapidly recovered from a bobble at the start to set the pace through fractions of :22.70 and :46.00 on the Tapeta. But Code Warrior was perched in second, traveling conspicuously well turning for home. Although Sanguinetti gave her a couple cracks of the whip to urge her on, Code Warrior made them seem superfluous. She collared Algenon at the five-furlong split in :57.85, lengthened stride, and pulled 2 1/2 lengths clear. She sped her final eighth in :11.83 and finished six furlongs in 1:09.68. Algenon was easily best of the rest by five lengths from Gold Rush Dancer.

“I thought it was going to be more of a flat-out sprint,” Sanguinetti said. “It looked like a drag race on paper. (Algenon) was out there, and he’s the horse I got to beat. I thought, ‘If he’s out front and he’s the only one, I don’t think anybody can come from behind.’ I just wasn’t worried about the others. For a second coming into the lane I thought, ‘Shoot, (Russell Baze on Algenon) has a lot of horse because he looked back, like he does. When I hit her, she just exploded.”

Code Warrior has now bankrolled $45,950 from her two-for-two record. Bred by Pamela Edel in Florida, the dark bay brought a scant $6,000 as a newly turned yearling at Keeneland January. Her price inched up to $10,000 nine months later at Keeneland September, and she went to her current connections for $18,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale March 31.

“Annie picked her out at the sale and I agreed with her,” Badilla said after Saturday's win. “She was a standout from the start. Nobody has ever beaten her in workouts, and that includes males and other horses. And she’s getting better and better.”

Code Warrior’s bargain price is understandable based on her immediate pedigree. She’s from the first crop of Society’s Chairman, whose career highlight was a victory in the 2010 Appleton (G3). He also finished second to triple Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti later that year in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).

Although a grandson of Sadler’s Wells, Society’s Chairman is by one of his lesser sons in Not Impossible. He entered stud in 2012 for a fee of C$5,000 at Shannondoe Farm in Ontario, and his fee was later trimmed to C$3,500. But Society’s Chairman has earned an increase back up to C$5,000 for 2016, thanks to the exploits of four-time Woodbine stakes winner Caren, who dominated the November 1 Princess Elizabeth.

Code Warrior was produced by the unraced Runaway Groom mare Lady Natalie, but her further female line provides substance. Her second dam is by Kris S., her third dam is a Tri Jet half-sister to 1992 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Lil E. Tee, and a three-quarter sister to multiple stakes victress and Grade 1-placed Thirty Zip.

Now we get to the fun part: Thirty Zip is the granddam of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper and his Grade 1-winning half-brother City Zip, both sires of note. This is the maternal line responsible for 1978 Triple Crown legend Affirmed, tracing to the brilliant Correction, a full sister to 1890s superstar and influential sire Domino.

Photo courtesy Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography.