SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York — Honor Code will attempt to stretch his success around two turns Saturday in the Grade 1 $1.25 million Whitney at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, the 4-year-old Honor Code is coming off the biggest victory of his career. He's the 3-1 favorite in the morning line for the in 88th running of the Whitney, which attracted several of the top older horses in training.
Also entered in the 1 1/8-mile race are 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist; 2014 Donn Handicap winner Lea; Noble Bird, who captured the Stephen Foster Handicap in his previous start; stablemates V.E. Day and Wicked Strong, each Saratoga stakes winners last summer who ran 1-2 in the Travers Stakes; and defending Whitney champion Moreno.
Joined on the program by four stakes, including the Grade 1 Test and Grade 3 Waya, the Whitney is part of the Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' series, earning the winner an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Late-running Honor Code rallied from dead last to win the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap by 3 3/4 lengths over favored Tonalist on June 6 at Belmont Park, running a mile in 1:33.18. In his only other race at Saratoga, the A.P. Indy ridgling won his career debut last August going seven furlongs.
"I wish every horse I ran was the favorite," McGaughey said. "Some people don't like that, but if they're the favorite they have something in their past performances to make them the favorite. Favorites only win a third of the time, but that doesn't bother me either. You can't be afraid to lose."
Moreno is attempting to become just the second horse to win the Whitney in successive years and the first since Discovery captured three straight from 1934 to 1936. Kelso (1961, 1963, 1965) and Commentator (2005, 2008) are the only other horses with multiple wins in the race.
"He's a 5-year-old (who's had) four years in training with 29 days off," said Moreno's trainer, Eric Guillot. "So far, we haven't missed any big dances."
The field for the Whitney, from the rail out, is Honor Code, Tonalist, Noble Bird, Liam's Map, Moreno, V.E. Day, Lea, Coach Inge, Wicked Strong and Normandy Invasion.