ELMONT, NY – W. S. Farish homebred Code of Honor returned to the track with a strong effort on Saturday, kicking ahead in mid-stretch to win his 2020 debut in the $100,000 Westchester Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.
Breaking from the far outside post 9 under John Velazquez as the 6/5 favorite, Code of Honor sat off the early pace while running three-wide in a stalking position. Up front, Prendimi hustled to the early lead and raced uncontested while Joevia and Senior Investment tracked through an opening 1/4-mile in :22.88.
Nearing the 1/2-mile pole, Endorsed suddenly moved forward under his own power along the rail and skimmed his way past Prendimi heading into the far turn. Edging away as he rounded the corner, Endorsed straightened for home on the lead, but Velazquez had Code of Honor running four-wide under a full head of steam.
Rallying hard after the pacesetter, Code of Honor stole command just past the 1/8 pole and began to pull ahead. Endorsed fought back gamely along the rail, but Velazquez confidently steered Code of Honor across the wire a 1/2-length clear for the victory.
The Shug McGaughey trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile muddy main track event in a final time of 1:42.39.
“He showed up big today,” Velazquez said. “I had to go around those two horses around the 3/8 pole and the other horse (Endorsed) had a really good lead. I didn’t want to ask too much of my horse, but he did what he needed to win today. I just wanted to hand ride him and he was good enough to get there. He’s stronger. He looks a lot stronger. He grew up and so hopefully we can have a good year.”
Forewarned toiled at the rear early but had enough of a kick to sweep past several rivals to take third. He was 6 1/2 lengths behind the winner and 5 1/4 lengths clear of Joevia, who weakened to fourth.
Payne, Mihos, Monongahela, Senior Investment, and Prendimi completed the order of finish. Backsideofthemoonand Wait for It were scratched.
Code of Honor’s win came in his 2020 debut after running seventh in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and improved his overall record to 11-6-2-1 with $2,413,320 earned. He is a 4-year-old colt by the stallion Noble Mission, who stands at the Farish-owned breeding establishment Lane’s End.
“I think he beat a pretty good horse in Endorsed,” McGaughey said. “They were pretty far in front of the rest of them. Coming off that long layoff, I was very pleased. I figured he’d like the track. Sometimes, when it’s like that and it’s open, anything can win, but I think the two best horses ran 1-2.”
Code of Honor returned $4.50 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.80 to show. Endorsed brought back $3.90 to place and $3.10 to show, while Forewarned paid $8.50 to show.