McGaughey Leaning Towards Gold Cup For Code of Honor

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Code of Honor | Sarah K Andrew

Five days removed from an impressive win in the GI Runhappy Travers S., trainer Shug McGaughey is not sure where his Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}) will run next, but said Friday that the Sept. 28 GI Jockey Club Gold Cup tops his list as of now. He said the Sept. 21 GI Pennsylvania Derby would be his other option and added that it was “60-40” he would chose the Gold Cup over the Pennsylvania Derby.

“I first want to get him back to Belmont and see how he is doing,” McGaughey said. “I haven’t ruled out the Pennsylvania Derby, but I think I might prefer the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I’m not a big fan of shipping a horse to a track three or four days in advance, so if we were to go to Parx I’d probably go down that morning. If we stay here at Belmont for the Gold Cup, all I’d have to do is walk him over from our barn to the racetrack.

He added, “I have been pleasantly surprised by how well he came out of the Travers and I want to make sure he keeps progressing, just the way he did between the [GIII] Dwyer and the Travers.”

Though the Gold Cup is for 3-year-olds and upward and the Pennsylvania Derby is restricted to 3-year-olds, the Parx race may come up the tougher of the two. Among the big names already confirmed for the Pennsylvania Derby are Maximum Security (New Year’s Day), War of Will (War Front) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip).

“One thing I want to do is see what happens in the Woodward this weekend because there are a lot of good older horses in there and I’m thinking that a lot that go in that race might skip the Gold Cup and go right to the [GI] Breeders’ Cup Classic,” the trainer said. “Once things unfold, I’ll have a better idea of who might be running in the Gold Cup.”

Another horse likely for the Gold Cup is 3-year-old Tacitus (Tapit), who was second behind Code of Honor in the Travers.

If McGaughey and owner Will Farish have designs on the 3-year-old championship, the Pennsylvania Derby could give them a better chance than the Gold Cup because Maximum Security is the horse they must knock off to have a realistic chance of winning an Eclipse. McGaughey said that has not entered into his thinking.

“Mr. Farish and I have not talked about the 3-year-old championship,” he said. “We want to run him in the right races and not push him into a race that may not be the best fit just so that we can try to win an Eclipse Award.”

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