Code of Honor makes Derby leaderboard move ahead of big prep weekend

Mar 04, 2019 Vance Hanson/

Code of Honor (#2, 54 points) bounced back to his best form and virtually secured a berth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate by taking last Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Having earned four points for running second in the Champagne (G1) last fall, Code of Honor earned 50 points for this breakout performance. Also cracking the top 20 were runner-up Bourbon War (#4, 21) and third-place finisher Vekoma (#17, 10).

Dropping out of Derby contention over the weekend due to infirmities was Southwest (G3) winner Super Steed, who had been in 12th on the leaderboard with 10 points.

A huge weekend of Road to the Kentucky Derby series preps is on tap with four point-scoring opportunities on March 9. The most significant is the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita, where the Bob Baffert-trained duo of champion juvenile Game Winner (#3, 30) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) winner Improbable (#14, 10) are expected to square off, as well as Gunmetal Gray (#8, 18).

The one-mile Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct will feature the seasonal reappearance of Instagrand, who won both of his starts last year by a combined margin of more than 20 lengths, and Knicks Go (#6, 18). Meanwhile, Sam F. Davis (G3) winner Well Defined (#16, 10) will try to punch his ticket to Louisville in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

The San Felipe, Gotham, and Tampa Bay Derby will reward points of 50-20-10-5 to its respective top four finishers. Also on Saturday is the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, where points of 20-8-4-2 will be up for grabs in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack test.

The European Road to the Kentucky Derby series, which offers one guaranteed spot in the Derby starting gate, picks back up Wednesday with preps in England (Road to the Derby Condition Stakes at Kempton) and Ireland (Patton Stakes at Dundalk). 

(Adam Coglianese Photography)

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