Super Screener


Photo by: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

Summer racing reaches its pinnacle on Travers Day, and this year’s card, comprised of six Grade 1 races, did not disappoint. From the thrilling photo finish between arch-rivals, Midnight Bisou and Elate in the Personal Ensign, to the dominating victories submitted by Come Dancing in the Ballerina and Mitole in the Forego, the day lived up to its hype. It was a perfect lead up to the biggest race of the summer.

The 2019 Travers field featured a deep cast of former Triple Crown combatants and several “new shooters”. It was one of those races in which people had strong opinions about several horses in the race. Tacitus enjoyed most of the attention due to his near misses via tough trips which prompted trainer Bill Mott to add blinkers, and it appeared that the colt worked well in them. However, when the gates opened he found himself on the lead heading into the turn and not looking all that comfortable. But, as is always the case with this locomotive, he just keeps running with no apparent limit on distance. He muscled his way to a solid 2nd place finish once again after doing a lot of the work on the front end throughout.  The one nagging issue for the Super Screener which prevented him from earning the top pick spot was that it was starting to look like he has been creating his own trouble.  Our final note in our analysis of Tacitus was “trip?”

Tax, Owendale, Mucho Gusto and even Looking At Bikinis got top pick mentions across a broad spectrum of handicappers. However, I don’t recall any mentions of Code of Honor as a top pick.  In fact, it was clear that the consensus fell on the “can’t get the distance” claim. That really surprised and, at the same time, delighted me as Code of Honor was a clear “A” horse and ranked #1 by the Super Screener. Let’s take a look at what led to the heavy conviction that distance was not going to be an issue:

First, note the stout breeding on the sire side with a BRIS Average Winning Distance of 7.8 highlighted in green.  Anything over 7.5 would indicate a horse has the potential to run 1 ¼ and further. 

Next, take a look at this colt’s last three running lines. Going back to the G1 Florida Derby, recall that Maximum Security walked on the front end with a pace so slow that the horse that followed him around the track, the huge long shot, Bodexpress, finished second. Note, Code of Honor’s running line…this confirmed closer was severely compromised by that pedestrian pace and essentially ran the same race as Maximum Security, just several lengths behind…slow early/fast late as indicated by the BRIS Late Pace figure earned in that race of 115.

Now look at Code of Honor’s running line coming out of the G3 Dwyer… it is identical to his running line the Florida Derby we just examined, only this time there was nothing close to a Maximum Security in that prep race so he came from last to first crushing the overmatched field despite running wide and Velazquez losing the whip… but he didn’t need it as this horse galloped out past the wire like he could run all day.

While he got a perfect rail trip in the Kentucky Derby, he held position well to finish 3rd and did not look like a horse that was backing up as they approached the wire. Another indicator that 1 ¼ miles was well within his range regardless of the pace set up. 

Lastly, he was wisely rested after the Kentucky Derby by trainer Shug McGaughey and his works leading up this were quite brilliant. Combined with that sharp prep, we knew this horse was sitting on a big race. 

#2 Code of Honor comes into this in the ideal way. He had that handy 60-day break since the Derby and submitted a perfect prep performance last out overcoming a very slow pace. Won his debut here, stylishly, and the Derby 3rd place finish was no fluke…top win pick.

As it turns out, the pace was about average on a track that was playing fair on the day if not a little kinder to off-the-pace types. Mucho Gusto and Tacitus dictated the early terms and were still right there in the final furlong before Code of Honor blew past them for the easy win at odds of 9-2.

In the end, the Super Screener called the Exacta cold and in addition to the suggested Exacta ticket cashing, so did the Trifecta, Superfecta and Pick 4 tickets. Despite the chalky Travers outcome, the total return was $1,300.  

Until this coming weekend, Go Fast and Win!