Code of Honor made amends for a disappointing run earlier in the Gulfstream Park meet by springing a 9-1 upset of the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on Saturday.
A debut winner at Saratoga for owner-breeder Will Farish and trainer Shug McGaughey last summer, Code of Honor was next a good second in the Champagne (G1) after stumbling at the start. However, the Noble Mission colt missed intended engagements in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Remsen (G2), and last time was a well-beaten fourth as the 4-5 in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man on January 5.
“This is what we were expecting of him,” jockey John Velazquez said. “Obviously, he came from a long layoff and probably was not quite ready for his first time out this year. We put a lot of work into him and he’s taken it really well and he showed today the kind of horse he is.”
Aided by a quick pace of :22.80, :45.69, and 1:10.42 set by 6-5 favorite Hidden Scroll, Code of Honor hugged the rail most of the way except when passing a retreating longshot rival on the far turn. Back closer to the rail when cutting the corner, Code of Honor then swung outside the tiring Hidden Scroll, took the lead, and held off a late charge from Bourbon War in the shortened stretch to win by three-quarters of a length.
Completing 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.85, Code of Honor paid $21. Bourbon War finished two lengths ahead of second choice Vekoma, with Hidden Scroll a neck behind in fourth. The order of finish was rounded out by Global Campaign, Union’s Destiny, Signalman, Everfast, Epic Dreamer, Frosted Grace, and Gladiator King.
The top four finishers earned Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5, respectively, as the Fountain of Youth was part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Virtually assured of a position in the Derby field, Code of Honor now has a total of 54 points. Bourbon War has 21 total points, while Vekoma and Hidden Scroll earned their first qualifying points on Saturday.
Bred in Kentucky, Code of Honor has now earned $384,820. He’s out of Grade 3 winner Reunited, by Dixie Union, and is a half-brother to Grade 2-placed Big League.