New Stallion: Honor Code

Honor Code
One of the best-bred stallions to retire to stud anywhere in the world in 2016, Honor Code made A.P. Indy’s (Seattle Slew) final crop a truly memorable one. 

Racing for the partnership of Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, Honor Code made his debut at Saratoga in late August of his 2-year-old year. Racing from what would become his customary back-of-the-pack position, he made easy work of the field when winning by 4 ½ lengths for trainer Shug McGaughey with John Velazquez aboard. 

Honor Code earned a Grade 1 placing in his second start finishing only a neck behind Havana (Dunkirk) in the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne Stakes with Javier Castellano, who would become his regular jockey, aboard. The Grade 2 Remsen really showed Honor Code’s mettle when the colt went head-to-head with Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile) in the stretch, who passed him at one point. Honor Code battled back to win by a nose to put both horses in Kentucky Derby conversations.

But McGaughey’s chance of winning the Kentucky Derby for a second straight year went out the window in March of 2014 after Honor Code was beaten 10 lengths by Social Inclusion (Pioneerof the Nile) in an allowance race and was injured a few weeks later.  Instead of his connections pulling the plug and retiring him off the injury, Honor Code returned to the track on Nov. 22, 2014 at Aqueduct against eight horses. While not a tough field, it was a good place for the colt to get his hooves back in the game and he won by a length to show he was back on track. 

Three and a half months later, Honor Code returned to the graded stakes level at Gulfstream to start his 4-year-old season. Running in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Honor Code took on a group that included Private Zone (Macho Uno), Valid (Medaglia d’Oro) and Wicked Strong (Hard Spun). By the time the field had gotten to the second call, Honor Code was 15 lengths behind the leading Private Zone. Honor Code still had to make up five lengths on Private Zone in the stretch but with Castellano urging him on, he was able to get up and win his second Grade 2 by half-length.

Honor Code threw in the first bad race of his career in his next start, the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Oaks day, when finishing fifth but he was back to the winner’s circle a month later. 
Before the Alysheba
In what was probably the strongest race on the Belmont Stakes card, 10 horses entered the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. With all but one horse in the race having at least one graded stakes win and four winning at the Grade 1 level it was Honor Code’s toughest task yet. He made it even tougher on himself when he dropped 14 lengths back after the first quarter but he steadily made up ground until he was second by half-length at the stretch call. In a strong performance, Honor Code passed Private Zone for the second time that year and kept rolling to win by 3 ¾ lengths.

Notching his first Grade 1 victory was a big deal for Honor Code’s future stallion career but it got better from there in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. With future Lane's End stablemate Liam’s Map (Unbridled’s Song) setting fast fractions on the lead, the race set up perfectly for Honor Code. While it was a challenge to catch Liam’s Map, he was able to beat him by a neck with another strong field behind him.

Honor Code suffered a surprise defeat in his final Breeders’ Cup prep, the Grade 2 Kelso Stakes when going off as the 3-to-5 favorite and losing to Appealing Tale (Tale of the Cat) by 3 ¾ lengths. But while he finished in the same position in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, it was a big performance to end his career on with the horse closing impressively on most of the field in the stretch.

Honor Code retired to Lane’s End at the end of 2015 with six wins in 11 starts, only finishing off the board once in his career for $2,518,260 (approx. €2,285,068/£1,807,990) in earnings. At the end of the year, he was named the Eclipse champion older male as well.

His pedigree is where Honor Code’s stud potential gets even more exciting.

Honor Code is by sire-of-sires A.P. Indy, who lives in the stall next to Honor Code and across from another champion son in Mineshaft at the Lane’s End stallion complex. A.P. Indy is the grandsire of top sire Tapit (Pulpit) and the sire of top stallions Bernardini, Congrats and Malibu Moon. As of Jan. 7, A.P. Indy had 155 stakes winners and 11 champions in addition to being a top five broodmare sire, making him a premier sire for both racehorses and producers.

Honor Code’s female family is equally as deep as his sire.

Honor Code is out of the stakes winning Storm Cat mare Serena’s Cat. Still a young mare at 13 years old, Serena’s Cat has produced three winners from four foals to race and has six foals on the ground as of Feb. 24, 2016. In addition to Honor Code, her first foal was the multiple graded stakes winner Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song) who currently stands in South Africa. Honor Code was her second foal and her third is the Bernardini filly Lady Serena. Lady Serena is a two-time winner from five races and is currently preparing for her 2016 debut for owner-breeder Dell Ridge Farm. 

Lane’s End Racing is the sole owner of Honor Code’s 3-year-old Tapit half-brother Morse Code, who showed talent when finishing second in his debut. Trained by McGaughey, Morse Code is currently sidelined but expected to return later this year. Honor Code’s 2-year-old half-sister is where the family's commercial value gets really interesting for Serena’s Cat.

Named Serena’s Harmony, the 2-year-old full sister to Morse Code was sold as a weanling at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Only the second Serena’s Cat offspring to go through the sales ring, Serena’s Harmony broke the North American weanling record when Bridlewood Farm paid $3-million for the filly.  

“We were at the max, but Mr. Malone’s a strong guy," said Bridlewood's General Manager George Isaacs at the time. "He gave me the green light to $2 [-million]; I had him on the phone. I said, 'Look, I’m good to call it quits here at $2.5 [-million],' and he said, 'No, keep going.' At $2.8 [-million], they bid $2.9 [-million], and he said, 'Well, bid $3 [-million]; go ahead.'”

Honor Code
Serena’s Cat hit another home run in 2015 when her weanling War Front colt sold at the same sale for $2.6-million to M.V. Magnier for the Coolmore partnership. The price was the second highest at the sale for a weanling behind the new record holder, a Take Charge Lady filly by War Front who sold for $3.2-million. Serena’s Cat is bred to Tapit again for 2016 and is due later this year.

Serena’s Cat is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Serena’s Tune. A stakes winner herself, Serena’s Tune has produced three winners. Included in that group is the aforementioned Serena’s Cat and the multiple Group 3 winner Vocalised (Vindication). Unfortunately, Serena’s Tune died after having only four foals with her only maiden unplaced in four starts.

Honor Code’s third dam is a mare almost everyone in racing in familiar with. The 1995 champion 3-year-old filly Serena’s Song (Rahy) was a superstar during her racing career, beating males before going on to produce 10 winners in her broodmare career.

The most accomplished of those on the track is Group 1 Coronation winner Sophisticat (Storm Cat), who has started her own successful European branch of the family with stakes winner Sefroua (Kingmambo). Serena’s Song also produced sons to carry on her legacy on a wider note with Grade 2 winners Grand Reward (Storm Cat) and Harlington (Unbridled) and Schramsberg (Storm Cat). All have gone on to stud careers.

In all, six of Serena Song’s 10 winners won at least one stakes race in their career with the latest being the 6-year-old Serene Melody (Street Cry). Serena’s Song has one final foal to hit the track, a 2-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly named Golden Serenade. The 24-year-old mare was pensioned at the end of 2014 after losing that year's pregnancy.

Honor Code at Churchill Downs
A.P. Indy had a lot of success with the Mr. Prospector line during his career, which could be a strong cross for Honor Code as well. While the stallion’s granddam is by Mr. Prospector, he only has one cross to the stallion in his first five generations and that moves to the fourth generation on his side for any resulting foals. Honor Code also only has one line of Northern Dancer in his first four generations (running through Serena’s Cat’s sire Storm Cat) and that will be pushed to the fifth generation in his foals, leaving him a bit more leeway with that cross in his mates. A.P. Indy himself is clear of both Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, bringing in an outcross factor on Honor Code’s top side. 

A popular young broodmare sire in the breed is Medaglia d’Oro and any of his daughters who are bred to Honor Code will bring in one more strain of Northern Dancer in the fifth generation through their sire. Otherwise, any of his daughters won't bring in any more inbreeding in the first five generations through their sire. A similar cross to this worked well in 2015 when Medaglia d’Oro’s daughter Rachel Alexandra produced a Grade 1 winner by Bernardini (A.P. Indy). According to Equineline, the Bernardini over Medaglia d’Oro cross has been done four times but only one of those has started (the aforementioned Grade 1 winner). A.P. Indy’s grandson Tapit has also seen four Medaglia d’Oro mares with one of the two foals to start winning a race.
Medaglia d'Oro
Broodmare sire Unbridled’s Song brings absolutely no inbreeding into the pedigree in the first five generations and adds both Fappiano and Caro to the fifth generation, two influential sires that Honor Code doesn’t have in his pedigree. Three of the five foals by A.P. Indy out of Unbridled’s Song daughters have won at least one race and four of the eight starters by Bernardini out of his daughters have won with $560,867 in earnings although none have won a stakes race.

With the Danzig sire line having strong representation with War Front and Hard Spun among others in North America, there’s no doubt that Honor Code will have mares from that line visit his court. Danzig daughters will give the foal Northern Dancer in the third generation in addition to the fifth from Honor Code with daughters by his sons pushing the cross back one more generation on the foal's bottom side. The A.P. Indy x Danzig cross has been a fruitful one with 25 winners from 37 starters and three stakes winners to date for over $4.6-million in earnings. A.P. Indy’s success with Danehill (Danzig) mares isn’t as flashy but the cross does have three winners from four starters and one stakes winner for $370,255 in earnings to date.
War Front
One final, interesting inbreeding cross would be to send Rahy daughters and granddaughters to the stallion as that would give the resulting foal Rahy in both the second and fifth generations. The cross with Honor Code’s sire has been fairly successful with five winners from six starters for over $885,000 in earnings but that obviously doesn’t include the Rahy inbreeding factor Honor Code brings in.

With a strong pedigree and race record Honor Code has been a popular new stallion this year. The stallion’s $40,000 (approx. €36,276/£28,718) fee doesn’t seem to be a deterrent with his name thrown around by many breeders going into the height of the 2016 breeding season.


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