Honor A.P. Rallies To Win G1, $400,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby

June 7, 2020

Lee and Susan Searing’s rapidly improving Honor A.P. sat perfect trip and accelerated off the turn for home to take Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby by 2 ¾ lengths, providing Mike Smith with his third consecutive victory in the West’s most important Kentucky Derby prep.  Trained by John Shirreffs, Honor A.P., an $850,000 yearling purchase, got a mile and one eighth in 1:48.97.

Well in-hand while fourth, about 2 ½ lengths off the early lead set by Shooters Shoot, Honor A.P. was a joint third, just outside of longshot Rushie three furlongs from home and with magnificent long strides, wheeled four-wide at the top of the stretch en route to a stirring victory, which also gave Shirreffs and Smith their second Santa Anita Derby win, dating back to Tiago’s win in 2007 and thus giving Smith his fourth win as well.

“He ran great, it was a super effort,” said Shirreffs.  “I’m just happy for everybody involved, and I can’t thank Mike Smith enough for all that he has done.  Whatever I need, Mike, he’s always there for me…

“We were happy with the way Honor A.P. was training for the race.  We knew that he has tactical speed and Mike can put him pretty much where he wants.  On the backside, we hoped he would get comfortable and to have a nice kick in the end, and it all worked out well.”

With 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in-hand as a result of today’s win, does Shirreff envision running the son of Honor Code again prior to the Run for the Roses on Sept. 5?

“It’s up to him whether we run him again before the big dance,” he said.  “We have to see how the horse comes out and how he feels, but you’d always prefer to run.  Running is probably the best option rather than training up to it, but we’ll wait and see how it all happens.”

A maiden winner in his second start here on Oct. 13, Honor A.P. was most recently second to today’s Derby favorite Authentic going a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March.  The second choice today at 2-1, Honor A.P. paid $6.40, $2.60 and $2.20.

“The plan was to (break) well and to let him run into that first turn and hopefully I could get him behind Authentic, said Smith.  “If not right behind him, then just to his outside a little bit and use my horse’s big long stride to his advantage and maybe get a little brave a little early…He gives every indication that he can go a mile and a quarter, just the way he does it, the way he galloped out today.  I mean I had to pull him up, he just keeps going with that big stride, it’s almost as if horses have to take two (strides) to his one, it seems like…I’m excited, I miss the fans, but I just gotta pump myself up!”

In only his fourth start, Honor A.P., who is out of the Grade I winning Wild Rush mare Hollywood Story, picked up $240,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $362,200.

Unbeaten in three starts, Authentic broke outwards leaving the gate but was less than a length off the lead from his outside post position heading into the first turn.  From there, he pressed the pace while three-deep, was in a good position while second at the top of the lane, but was no match for the winner late.

Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke and trained by Bob Baffert, Authentic was heavily favored at 1-2 and paid $2.20 and $2.10 while finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Rushie.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Rushie showed attending speed, was three wide turning for home and finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of longshot Anneau d’Or.  Off at 12-1, Rushie paid $3.40 to show.

With 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points at stakes, Authentic collected 40, Rushie, 20 and Anneau d’Or picked up 10.

Fractions on the race were 23.07, 46.88, 1:10.97 and 1:36.10

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