Honor Code Named Champion Older Dirt Male

Honor Code Named Champion Older Dirt Male
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Courtney Heeney

Honor Code   earned his Eclipse Award the old-fashioned way. He campaigned from late winter until the fall, didn't duck the competition, and won prestigious and historic grade I events in New York.

He began with a marvelous pedigree, being from the last crop of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy out of the stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Serena's Cat, a granddaughter of champion and Hall of Fame member Serena's Song. Dell Ridge Farm bred Honor Code in Kentucky, and Lane's End Racing bought a majority interest in him as a yearling, with Teresa Viola Racing ultimately joining the ownership group.

Before trainer Shug McGaughey's string left its winter Florida home, Honor Code made his 2015 debut in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) at a mile. He defeated multiple grade I winner Private Zone by a half-length.

Honor Code tackled a mile once again in the June NYRA.com Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park against horses who had won at diverse distances. Favored Tonalist   had succeeded at 1 1/2 miles in the 2014 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) but was coming off a mile stakes victory. Despite racing wide, Honor Code defeated Tonalist, who encountered trouble of his own during the race.

When the circuit moved to Saratoga Race Course, Honor Code again came home victorious, this time in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney Stakes (gr. I). Liam's Map   led through most of the race and appeared to have victory well in hand. But Honor Code, last early, refused to give up, closing what looked like an insurmountable gap to wrest the lead away in the final stride by a neck.

That gave Honor Code wins over Tonalist and Liam's Map, the other two finalists in his division. At the Breeders' Cup, Liam's Map opted for the Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) while Honor Code finished ahead of Tonalist again when third in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

Honor Code takes a championship and lifetime earnings of $2,518,260, $2,075,660 of that earned during 2015, to stud at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky.

Voting in the older dirt male division: Honor Code, 126; Liam's Map, 95; Tonalist, 14; Effinex  , 12; Shared Belief, 9; California Chrome  , 3. voter abstentions, 2.

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