Honor A. P. has always shown potential, and the patience of trainer John Shirreffs was rewarded when the talented 3-year-old rallied to a decisive win in the $400,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita.
When added to runner-up efforts in the San Felipe (G2) and Shared Belief S., the victory was more than sufficient to secure Honor A. P. a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. And while the $850,000 yearling purchase has yet to negotiate the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance, Honor A. P.’s pedigree suggests the added real estate will only enhance his chances of victory on the first Saturday in September.
|Honor A. P. Pedigree|
|Honor A. P.|
|Wife for Life|
Honor A. P. hails from the first crop of foals sired by Honor Code, the champion older dirt male of 2015. Though Honor Code peaked as a 4-year-old, utilizing powerful bursts of acceleration to win the one-mile Metropolitan H. (G1) and 1 1/8-mile Whitney (G1), he also demonstrated enough early precocity to nab the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) and place in the one-mile Champagne (G1) as a juvenile.
Honor Code never won going 1 1/4 miles, but his lone start over the trip produced a respectable third-place effort behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Honor Code’s overall success running long is easy to understand since he’s a son of long-winded Belmont Stakes (G1) winner A.P. Indy and a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) runner-up Noble Tune.
Though sample sizes are still limited, Honor Code’s progeny have likewise been exhibiting stamina during their budding careers. In addition to Honor A. P., Honor Code is the sire of 1 1/8-mile Withers (G3) victor Max Player, a fellow contender on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Honor A. P. figures to inherit additional stamina through his dam, Hollywood Story. Under Shirreffs’ care, the classy mare competed in 26 consecutive graded stakes races between 2003 and 2006, winning the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet (G1) as a juvenile and the Vanity H. (G1) as a 5-year-old. Previously the dam of stakes-winning sprinter Miss Hollywood, Hollywood Story was a pure two-turn specialist with plenty of stamina and a strong stretch kick, traits she appears to have passed on to Honor A. P.
Hollywood Story’s own pedigree contains a mixture of speed and stamina. Sire Wild Rush was fast enough to win the Metropolitan and the 7-furlong Carter H. (G1), yet stout enough to finish in a dead-heat for victory with Kentucky Derby champion Silver Charm in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Cup Classic H. (G3). In addition to Hollywood Story, Wild Rush is the sire of three-time Grade 1-winning router Stellar Jayne and two-time 1,800-meter Japan Cup Dirt (G1) champion Transcend, who finished second in the Dubai World Cup (G1) running 1 1/4 miles.
The bottom half of Hollywood Story’s pedigree is slanted even more heavily toward endurance. Her dam, the turf miler Wife for Life, is a daughter of Dynaformer, a stamina influence whose best foals include Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, Melbourne Cup (G1) champion Americain, and the five-time Grand National Hurdle (G1) winner McDynamo.
In short, there are a couple of recurring themes running through Honor A. P.’s pedigree. One is the stamina to win major races around two turns, and the other is late maturity coupled with the raw talent to win meaningful races from an early age. With the postponement of the Kentucky Derby until September, this sounds like a combination that could land Honor A. P. in the winner’s circle on Derby Day.