Honor A.P has claimed a Kentucky Derby berth after storming home to claim victory in the G1 Santa Anita Derby.
The son of Honor Code from the A.P. Indy sire line will now join what is shaping to be a bumper Kentucky Derby field that will include Tiz the Law and Maxfield.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the emerging star, who found the going tough early before a massive push on the final turn of the race left the remainder of the field in his wake.
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The victory is a redemption story of sorts, particularly as horse and jockey Mike Smith had been defeated by Authentic – the race favorite – previously by 2 ¼ lengths behind in the March 7 San Felipe Stakes.
This time, the tables were turned as Honor A.P showed immense turn of foot to run over the top of Authentic.
The young Colt will now look ahead to the Belmont Stakes.
“He’s one of the ones you didn’t know about before this pandemic hit,” winning jockey Mike Smith said.
“You didn’t know some horses were going to be peaking a whole lot better in May, which he probably wouldn’t have been. Now that [the Kentucky Derby] is [Sept. 5], we should be seeing a bigger, stronger horse by then. He should get every little bit of the mile and a quarter.”
The 1 1/8 mile Santa Anita Derby is traditionally staged on the first weekend of April, however with the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down racecourses across the country, it was pushed forward two months to coincide with the shift in date of the Kentucky Derby.
“We were happy with the way Honor A.P. was training for the race,” said John Shirreffs, the winning trainer.
“We knew that he has tactical speed and Mike [Smith] can put him pretty much where he wants.
“On the backside, we hoped he would get comfortable to have a nice little kick in the end, and it all worked out well.”
The G1 victory is now Honor A.P’s second win from four career starts.