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Honor Code jogs at Gulfstream; Havana back on worktab
Remsen Stakes winner Honor Code jogged at Gulfstream Park for the second straight morning on Sunday. The highly regarded three-year-old colt was transferred from trainer Shug McGaughey's division at Payson Park in Indiantown, Florida, to the Hall of Fame trainer's barn at Gulfstream Park Thursday.
"I wanted to get him off the deeper track and I wanted to be around him, too," McGaughey said.
Honor Code recently sustained bruising in his back ankles while training for a scheduled 2014 debut in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on February 22. McGaughey announced last week that he won't make that race, but mentioned that he could be ready in time for the March 1 Gotham at Aqueduct.
The McGaughey-trained Top Billing, who captured an allowance race at Gulfstream in spectacular last-to-first fashion last weekend, is now scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Fountain of Youth, a key prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
"He came out of his race really good. It looks like a good spot," McGaughey said.
In another notable three-year-old update in Florida, Havana, who just held on from Honor Code in last fall's Champagne, returned to the worktab at Palm Meadows on Saturday. Idle since his runner-up finish in the November 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Havana toured three furlongs in :37 3/5 with regular exercise rider Ezequiel Perez aboard.
"I thought he worked really well and looked good," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "His fitness level was probably a little ahead of where I expected him to be. He went out very nicely, so we were pleased with that."
Owned by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier, Havana went gate to wire to break his maiden at first asking last August at Saratoga, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02 3/5.
Stretched out to a mile for the Champagne, Havana took a 4 1/2-length lead into the stretch and held on to win by a neck over favored Honor Code in 1:35 4/5. In the Breeders' Cup, Havana was in front by two lengths turning for home before being caught by New Year's Day, beaten 1 1/4 lengths.
"We just wanted to get him back on the worktab and get him back into a routine," Pletcher said. "He was actually scheduled to work a couple days before but we had all that rain so we had to wait. We're just trying to get him back on schedule and thought we made up quite a bit of ground today. He was more fit than I figured he would be."
Unable to make the Fountain of Youth with the missed time, Pletcher is instead pointing Havana to the Grade 2, $150,000 Swale at seven furlongs on March 1.
"We are right now on schedule for the Swale," Pletcher said.