When owner Robert Marzilli and trainer Michael De Paulo went to the 2017 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, they had their sights on Code Warrior, a grade 3 winner they had been watching at Woodbine.
The pair achieved their goal, buying the daughter of Society's Chairman for $190,000 from ELiTE Sales, which consigned her on behalf of J. C. Racing Stable, Wachtel Stable, and Gary Barber.
On Jan. 1, the new owner and trainer took the first step toward recouping their investment, when the now-5-year-old mare won the $75,000 Abundantia Stakes at Gulfstream Park, running her record to 5-3-3 from 16 starts and increasing her earnings to $269,564.
In the Abundantia, Code Warrior received a ground-saving trip under Tyler Gaffalione before kicking on through the stretch to score by 1 1/4 lengths in the five-furlong turf stakes for older fillies and mares.
"We'd been following this filly for a long time," said De Paulo, who along with Marzilli had struck it big with another daughter of Society's Chairman named Caren, who was voted 2016 Canadian Horse of the Year honors. Society's Chairman stands at Shannondoe Farm near St. Thomas, Ontario, where his 2018 fee is CA$5,000.
For Code Warrior, who captured the six-furlong Hendrie Stakes (G3) over Woodbine's all-weather track in June, the New Year's Day stakes victory was her first on turf in her second grass start. In her other turf try, Code Warrior finished fourth in the Royal North Stakes (G3T) at Woodbine.
Code Warrior paid $18.60 for the win, while 7-1 shot Girls Know Best finished second after setting the pace under Javier Castellano. Brandy's Girl, the 4-5 favorite who defeated colts and geldings in a stakes two starts back, finished a non-threatening third under Jose Ortiz.
"They weren't sure she really liked grass, because she only ran on it once and finished fourth. But that race is the best sprint they have up there on turf—the Royal North," De Paulo said.
"The filly broke sharp. Mike told me to just be patient with her," Gaffalione said. "We had a perfect position going into the turn, sat right behind the speed, and coming into the stretch a spot opened up. Once I put her in there, she really accelerated. I wasn't too worried. I had a lot of horse around the turn and I just had to wait for my spot."
Bred in Florida by Pamela Edel, Code Warrior was initially purchased by Mal McGuire for $6,000 as a "short yearling" at the 2014 Keeneland January horse of all ages sale. Sent back through the Keeneland ring at that same year's September yearling sale, she was sold for $10,000. She went through the ring again in April of 2015, where she was bought by John Sanguinetti for $18,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Texas sale of 2-year-olds in training.