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OCEANPORT, NJ – It’s not so much a new and improved version of Code of Honor who will make his return to the races at Monmouth Park in Saturday’s $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3), trainer Shug McGaughey said, as it is a more mature one.
Idle since a fifth-place finish on January 23 in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park, Code of Honor heads a field of seven for the feature on Monmouth Park’s 14-race Saturday card.
With those 7 months off, McGaughey said the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up and Travers Stakes (G1) winner is now all grown up.
“We gave him a good amount of time off and he has come back strong and he has been training really well at Saratoga,” he said. “I’m looking forward to running him on Saturday.
“He has grown up quite a bit physically with the time off. He was a late foal (May 23), so we were always kind of playing catch up with him. I think he is all caught up now.”
The Kentucky-bred Code of Honor, now 5, looms large over his six rivals for the 1 1/16-mile Iselin.
He’s won 2 Grade 1 races (the 2019 Travers and the 2019 Jockey Club Gold Cup) and 5 of his 6 career wins have been in graded stakes. Overall, the W. S. Farish homebred is 6 for 16 lifetime with 4 seconds and 2 thirds. His career earnings stand at $2,731,320.
“It wasn’t a body maturity thing with him,” said McGaughey. “He was always doing fine. Being a late foal, it just took him a little time to catch up. That’s the best way I can explain it.”
Code of Honor Conquers Travers
Code of Honor’s 2020 campaign started with a victory in the Westchester Stakes (G3) but failed to produce another win in 4 races after that. But he was third in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1), second in the Kelso Handicap (G2), and second in the Clark Stakes (G1).
“It wasn’t a frustrating year, but it wasn’t exactly what we hoped for after it started out with a win,” said McGaughey. “That’s why I’m looking forward to running him again with the time off we gave him.
“He was so close last year. Maybe this year will be the year for him.”
A son of Noble Mission-Reunited by Dixie Union, Code of Honor has proven he can run well fresh, so McGaughey doesn’t have any concerns about the lengthy layoff.
“He won his first start. And when he was a 3-year-old, he ran in the Dwyer (G3) on July 6 at Belmont and then didn’t run again until the Travers on August 24,” McGaughey said. “So I think fresh is good for him.”
Code of Honor Returns Strong in Westchester
Code of Honor finished third in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was elevated to second with the disqualification of Maximum Security. He was also second but placed first due to interference in 2019 Jockey Cup Gold Cup after finishing a nose behind Vino Rosso.
Paco Lopez, well on his way to an eighth Monmouth Park riding title, has the mount.
The rest of the Iselin field consists of West Will Power, Croatian, I’m a G Six, Magic Michael, Phat Man, and Brice.
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