Oaklawn Barn Notes March 5

March 5, 2014

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Nancy Ury-Holthus, nury@oaklawn.com, (501) 623-4411 ex. 496

Jennifer Hoyt, jhoyt@oaklawn.com (501) 623-4411 ex. 497

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Honor Code Remains on Target for Rebel Stakes

As long as there are no bumps along the way, highly regarded Honor Code’s road to Louisville for the first Saturday in May is coming through Hot Springs.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who won his first Kentucky Derby last year with Orb, reiterated on Mar. 5 that Honor Code will make his 3-year-old debut in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park March 15.

“It looks that way,” McGaughey said from his South Florida base. “So far everything looks good. He worked real good the other day and we’ll work him again on Sunday. The plane goes out there on the 13th so we’ve got plenty of time.”

Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm’s graded stakes winner suffered a setback Jan. 18 when stressing his hind ankles while working at Payson Park in South Florida and he missed three weeks of training. McGaughey then moved him to his Gulfstream Park barn to keep closer watch on him and Honor Code was back on the work tab Feb. 12 and has not missed any time since. On Mar. 2, he traveled five furlongs in :59 for the sixth fastest move of 43 horses working the same distance.

McGaughey said that although Honor Code missed valuable training time, he believes the Remsen Stakes (G2) winner is in prime form.

“He’s a good looking horse, that’s for sure,” said the trainer, who will accompany him to Hot Springs.

When breaking his maiden impressively at first asking Aug. 31, Hall of Famer John Velasquez was in the irons and next out in the Champagne Stakes (G1) Irad Ortiz, Jr. was aboard. His pilot for the Remsen was 2013 Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano.

“I’ve still got time to figure out who the rider will be,” McGaughey said.

The Rebel Stakes is in the championship series of the Kentucky Derby points system and 50-20-10-5 points will be awarded for finishes from first through fourth.  Since Honor Code hasn’t started since the Remsen on Nov. 30, he currently stands in 11th place on the Derby entry points list with 14. If he runs well and likes the track, McGaughey would likely send him back for the $1 million Arkansas Derby when 100 points and Grade 1 status come with the victory.

Stakes Winner Taris Arrives for Honeybee

Taris, undefeated in two starts and the winner of the $100,000 Wide Country Stakes  at Laurel last time out on Jan. 25, arrived on the Oaklawn Park backside at 4 AM on Tuesday in preparation for her start in Saturday’s $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies.

The Flatter filly may be lightly raced, but has shown true talent in winning her two races by a combined 20 lengths while being hand-ridden by regular jockey Clinton Potts.

“She hasn’t been hit yet,” said trainer Todd Beattie, who trains her for Commonwealth New Era racing, a partnership he formed while retaining 25% ownership of the filly. “Obviously, it’s been a lot of fun having her run as good as she has. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her yet.

Beattie and his brother drove Taris in a van for 18 hours from the Ocala, FL training center owned by their sister Holly, who is married to Brian Rice, a member of racing’s famous Rice family. He decided to send her South when the winter weather at his Penn National base turned nasty following Taris’ Wide Country win.

“Hopefully, she can handle all of the differences we’ve thrown at her,” said Beattie said. “We took her to a different place to train and now we’ve taken her to a different place to run. Even though she shipped the last  two times she’s run, we shipped in on the day of the race rather than five days ahead of time. You question whether a young filly is going to handle it. I’m optimistic and hopeful, but there are questions.”

Taris has yet to travel around two turns and the Honeybee will be contested at 1 1/16 miles. Taris’ wins have come at six furlongs and seven furlongs and she went gate-to-wire both times, but it looks like there will be plenty of fleet-footed fillies flashing early speed in the Honeybee.

“Obviously that’s a concern, but I don’t think she has to be married to the lead,” said Beattie. “At the same time, I wish she was a little more patient than she’s showed us, but I think that will come. The fact I’ve had her down there in Ocala and have been training her there, I think we were able to work on her relaxing. We’ve been concentrating on that. She’s going into the race good and I like everything.”

Beattie picked Taris out of the Keeneland September sale last year as a 2-year-old and signed the ticket for $90,000.

Taris now has the opportunity to notch her first graded stakes victory and Potts will be jetting in from Penn National to be aboard.

“If we can handle the newness of shipping and going to a strange place, 18 hours from where we were training, I like our chances,” said her trainer.

In related Honeybee news, Naïve Enough, fourth last time out in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) in November at Churchill Downs, was declared by her trainer, Ignacio Correas, who said he changed plans to ship the filly from South Florida to Hot Springs when an overnight stakes race came up for her at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.

Nonetheless, provided that all continues to go well, the daughter of 2006 Juvenile champion and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense will be in the starting gate for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for sophomore fillies on April 5.

The complete field for the Honeybee Stakes, in post position order, with riders: Please Explain, Drayden Van Dyke; Taris, Clinton Potts; Silk Purse, Ramon Vazquez; Midnight Eclipse, Glenn Corbett; Springsteen Road, David Mello; Euphrosyne, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Courageous Julie, Israel Ocampo; Kiss Moon, Terry Thompson; Ireland, Norberto Arroyo Jr.; Dream Spinner, Luis Quinonez, and Sugar Shock, Channing Hill.