Making a sweeping four-wide move entering the stretch, Honor A. P. quickly seized command and powered home a 2 3/4-length winner in Saturday's $401,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) under Mike Smith.
This was the third consecutive Santa Anita Derby victory for Smith, who guided Justify and Roadster to the winner's circle the past two seasons. Smith also won the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) with Swiss Skydiver earlier on Saturday.
Honor A. P. covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.97 over a fast track and paid $6.40 for owner C R K Stable and trainer John Shirreffs. Odds-on favorite Authentic, who broke awkwardly and was hung three wide on both turns, finished second after pressing the pace. Rushie finished third and Anneau d'Or was fourth. Shooter Shoot, Friar's Road, and Azul Coast completed the order of finish.
Smith believes this performance was a mere foretaste of how Honor A. P. will handle 1 1/4 miles in the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby (G1).
"I had to pull him up, he just keeps going with that big stride. The farther the better it seems," Smith said. "Now that it's in September, we should see an even bigger and stronger horse by then. He should get every bit of that mile and a quarter."
Honor A. P. earned 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the win, increasing his total to 140. Authentic earned 40 points, boosting his total to 100, while Rushie earned 20 points and Anneau d'Or 10 points. The latter now has 22 points in total.
This was the second win in four career starts for Honor A. P., who followed up a runner-up second in his debut at Del Mar with a 5 1/4-length maiden score going a mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 13. Honor A. P. followed the same pattern to victory here, finishing 2 1/4 lengths behind Authentic in the Mar. 7 San Felipe (G2) before turning the tables on Saturday. He's now earned $362,200.
Bred in Kentucky by George Krikorian, Honor A. P. was sold for $850,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. By 2015 champion older male Honor Code, he's out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush.