Though he didn't win, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was encouraged March 13 with how top 3-year-old Honor Code was doing the morning after making his long-awaited seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park.
McGaughey said he will continue to monitor Honor Code before deciding on the next start, but both the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29 and Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 5 remain under consideration.
Honor Code was soundly beaten by speedster Social Inclusion in the March 12 allowance heat at 1 1/16 miles, losing by 10 lengths. The A.P. Indy colt was racing for the first time since beating Cairo Prince by a nose in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) Nov. 30 after having his sophomore campaign delayed by hind ankle bruises.
Asked for run by jockey Javier Castellano after a half-mile to close the gap on the Social Inclusion, Honor Code never challenged. Favored at 1-2 in the field of five, Honor Code was a decisive second, 17 1/4 lengths ahead of We're All Set in third.
"He seemed to come back fine," McGaughey said. "He ate up good last night and this morning and walked good. Everything looks fine. That's what you hope to see. I just think we caught a very good horse on a race track that he loved."
The minor bruising problem prompted McGaughey to move Honor Code from Payson Park to Gulfstream in late January.
"We're disappointed we didn't win, but I'm not disappointed in the effort," he said. "I want to just see how he comes out of it and then I'll make up my mind exactly what we're going to do."
Honor Code, owned by Lane's End Racing and his breeder, Dell Ridge Farm, has two wins and two seconds from four lifetime starts and earnings of $401,200.