Honor Code Holds Off Cairo Prince to Emerge as Early 2014 Kentucky Derby Favorite

Saturday, November 30, Aqueduct Racetrack was the site of yet another great thoroughbred horse racing finish. A legendary track to say the least, Aqueduct has been home to some of thoroughbred horse racing's greatest finishes. The 100th renewal of the $400,000 Remsen Stakes (grade II) this past Saturday was no exception, as a late charging Honor Code pushed on the inside at the last second, edging his nose just ahead of Nashua Stakes (grade II) winner Cairo Prince in a memorable finish, and cementing his position as an early Kentucky Derby betting favorite for next year.

The improving Honor Code evidently learned something from his close second place finish in the recent Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (grade I) to winner Havana at Belmont Park, who pulled ahead by a neck late. Honor Code was ridden to the victory by jockey Javier Castellano for trainer Shug McGaughey. Owner Lane's End Racing and its breeder, Dell Ridge Farm of Kentucky, are already looking forward to the 2014 Kentucky Derby, though they admittedly need to train the young and talented horse for those longer races.

They are not wrong to look ahead as Honor Code has been impressive, and is already showing as an early Kentucky Derby favorite for next year in thoroughbred prop and futures betting. When Wynn Resorts opened 2014 Kentucky futures betting back in September, Honor Code opened as the favorite at 35 to 1. The Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb was also trained by McGaughey, and Honor Code has shown late strength ever since his debut, when he rallied from the back to take his first victory at Saratoga by 4 1/2 lengths.

McGaughey said that plans have already been made to take Honor Code to Payson Park (Thoroughbred Training Center in Florida) in preparation of running the longer Triple Crown distances next year. And his late charging ability may be of benefit at those longer links, as the final time for the 1 1/8 mile distance on a relatively fast track was a slow 1:52.92. Pre-race the 116 pound Honor Code was the 4-5 choice and second place Cairo Prince, running at 122 pounds, opened at 8-5. The two favorites ended up just where everyone expected.

Fourth at the quarter mile opening and improving to second Honor Code grabbed a slight lead at the quarter pole, before determined Cairo Prince, coming up on the outside for jockey Luis Saez on the upper stretch, seemed to have the momentum as he grabbed a very slight lead. Honor Code would not be denied, closing the final furlong and grabbing a victory by the narrowest of margins. The $240,000 winner's share moved Honor Code's career purse earnings to $388,000. Cairo Prince is also drawing some attention as a possible 2014 Kentucky Derby entrant worth watching.

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