Code of Honor Attempts Travers-Whitney Double

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Code of HonorSarah Andrew

Last year’s GI Travers S. hero Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}) looks to become the first horse since Medaglia d’Oro in 2002/2003 to complete the Travers-GI Whitney S. double Saturday at Saratoga and secure a spot in the starting gate for the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. Capturing the GIII Dwyer S. last term prior to his Travers score, the W.S. Farish homebred came up a nose short of champion Vino Rosso (Curlin) in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup S. in September, but was promoted to first via DQ. Seventh to that rival next out in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, the chestnut captured his seasonal bow in Belmont’s GIII Westchester S. June 6 and was third last out in the GI Met Mile July 4.

“It won’t be easy, but I just hope Code of Honor runs a monster race,” Shug McGaughey told the NYRA notes team. “It will be kind of interesting to see what the tactics are with only five [horses]. I know where I’m going to be, but I’m not sure what the others are going to do or how much they’re going to press.”

Tom’s d’Etat (Smart Strike) is leading the handicap division at the moment and enters this test on a four-win streak. Winner of Keeneland’s GII Hagyard Fayette S. in October, the bay followed suit with his first top-level success in the GI Clark S. in November. Denying Improbable (City Zip) by 3/4 of a length in the Oaklawn Mile Apr. 11, Tom’s d’Etat romped by 4 1/4 lengths in the GII Stephen Foster S. at Churchill June 27.

“You can see from his PPs that when the pace is fast, he comes from off the pace and if it’s slow, he’s right on top of it,” said Stall. “That’s a good thing for us. That’s [a compact field] not my problem. That’s for [jockey] Joel Rosario and it’s 100% in his hands. Joel is undefeated on him.”

The runner-up that day was By My Standards (Goldencents), who kicked off 2020 with a trio of victories, starting with a Feb. 9 optional claimer at Fair Grounds. The bay went on take both the GII New Orleans Classic S. Mar. 21 and GII Oaklawn H. May 2.

Improbable, on the other hand, rounded back into his best form last time out. Off the board in the GI Pennsylvania Derby in September and the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November, the chestnut was second in the aforementioned Oaklawn Mile and returned to winning ways in the 10-furlong GI Hollywood Gold Cup S. at Santa Anita June 6.

Rounding out the quintet is hometown hero Mr. Buff (Friend or Foe). The native New Yorker is an eight-time stakes winner, including the Jazil S. in January and Haynesfield S. in February. Runner-up in the Commentator S. at Belmont Jun 12, the chestnut was fifth last time in the GII Suburban S. July 4.

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