This year’s crop of three-year olds has been struggling to produce a true “star”. Everyone has their favorite in this crop, but at this point it is almost impossible to tell who tops them all.
Could it be Code of Honor?
Early Life (2016-17)
Code of Honor is a second-generation homebred for William Farrish of Lane’s End Farm. He is out of the Gr.3 winning mare Reunited, a daughter of Dixie Union bred and raced by Farrish. His sire is Noble Mission, the Group 1 winning full-brother to Frankel that Lane’s End Farm brought over from Europe. The colt was absolutely gorgeous. His chestnut coat was decorated with four white socks and a blaze, chrome he had likely inherited from his flashy sire. But despite his beauty and athleticism, the colt failed to attract bids higher than $70,000 when he was at the Keeneland Yearling Sale in 2017. His reserve wasn’t reached, so Farrish kept the colt.
Code of Honor was sent to Courtlandt Farm in Ocala, Florida for his early education and was then shipped to trainer Shug McGaughey in Maryland to begin his real-deal training.
Two-Year Old Season (2018)
Saratoga witnessed Code of Honor’s debut on August 8th, 2018. He flashed his talent for those in attendance, winning on his first asking with John Velasquez in the irons.
The colt’s connections knew at that point that they had a star. They immediately stepped him up to the highest level of the sport for the Gr.1 Champagne Stakes. Despite his good debut, the betting public did not favor Code of Honor. Half of the field were favored to finish above him.
It looked as if he would live up to his odds when the starting gates flew open and he stumbled badly, his nose nearly scraping against the dirt. In horse racing, a bad start can cost a horse the entire race. However, Code of Honor recovered to come flying on outside as the field went around the far turn. He ran his heart out to finish second to Complexity.
If nothing else, Code of Honor had proved himself as a tough horse in that final start of his two-year old season.
[Video: Watch Code of Honor, #8, finish second in the Champagne Stakes]
Three-Year Old Season (2019)
Code of Honor started off this year at Gulfstream in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, this time as the favorite. Again he had a rough start, bumping Gladiator King as they came out of the gates. He then brushed Mihos on the backstretch and just couldn’t seem to put the pieces back together. He finished a well-beaten fourth.
Code of Honor finally got back to the winners’ circle in the Gr.1 Fountain of Youth in March, squeezing past horses on the rail and holding off a fast charging Bourbon War.
He then ran in the Gr.1 Florida Derby, finishing third behind Maximum Security. A faster pace that would have better suited his running style would have likely led him to perform better.
Code of Honor entered the wide open Kentucky Derby as the sixth-favorite. He broke okay and settled about mid-pack on the rail. By the time they reached the far-turn, the mud soaked Code of Honor had nothing but room to run. He took a bump from Maximum Security put kept on his way to finish third. The controversial decision to DQ Maximum Security elevated Code of Honor to second place.
Code of Honor returned to the races in July to win the Gr.3 Dwyer, easily taking the mile race. Most recently, he blew the field away in the Gr.1 Travers.
[Video: Watch Code of Honor, #2, win the Gr.1 Travers Stakes]
Code of Honor will likely be running in the Gr.1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28th. A victory there will likely mean an entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, though trainer Shug McGaughey did say that he will not push his horse for a championship.
Code of Honor does have some tough competition for Champion Three-Year Old Colt honors, though. Omaha Beach will be making his highly anticipated return to racing in the Gr.3 Ack Ack on Sept. 28th, the same day that Code of Honor will be facing older horses in New York.
Code of Honor might face Game Winner if he runs in the Breeders' Cup Classic too. Game Winner hasn’t been quite successful on the East Coast, but the home-state advantage of the Breeders’ Cup Classic being run in California makes him a fierce competitor.
Finally, Code of Honor would be vying with Maximum Security for Champion Three-Year Old Colt honors. Maximum Security has already defeated Code of Honor twice (Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby before the DQ). There is potential for both of them to face off in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
The three-year old crop of 2019 is a tough one to judge. There are so many good colts and so many “hit or miss” colts. If Code of Honor puts in a few more good races, his name will certainly make the ballot.
This article is part of a series on 2019's top three-year olds
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