Trainer Shug McGaughey has another Kentucky Derby (G1) prospect on his hands in Greatest Honour, who decisively captured Saturday’s $200,000 Holy Bull S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park by 5 3/4 lengths in his stakes debut.
“I told my wife, ‘the pressure begins now,'” McGaughey said.
Sent off as the second choice in a field of nine, Greatest Honour was no more than 5 1/2 lengths off a pace of :23.28 and :46.97 set by Willy Boi. Advancing into contention with a four-wide bid around the far turn under Jose Ortiz, Greatest Honour rolled past 11-10 favorite Prime Factor at the top of the short stretch and won convincingly in a time of 1:43.19 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track.
A homebred racing for Courtlandt Farm, Greatest Honour paid $7.60. Tarantino, making his first ever start on dirt, finished a clear second by 3 3/4 lengths over Prime Factor, who weakened in his second start and first beyond six furlongs. Papetu ran fourth and was followed by Jirafales, Sittin On Go, Awesome Gerry, and Willy Boi. Amount was pulled up.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Holy Bull awarded the respective top four finishers qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1. All four were earning their first points in the series.
Third in his first two starts last fall around one turn, Greatest Honour showed noticeable improvement when stretching out his third start, a 1 1/8-mile maiden at Aqueduct in which he finished second by a head.
“Sprinting wasn’t going to be his bag, but I think those two sprint races sort of helped him to learn and learn how to finish,” McGaughey said.
Returning in a 1 1/16-mile maiden at Gulfstream on Dec. 26, Greatest Honour overcame trouble at the start and in the clubhouse turn to win by 1 1/2 lengths. His record now stands at 5-2-1-2, $175,240.
“He’s not going to be a hard horse to have ready for the Florida Derby (G1), and a mile and an eighth is going to suit him even better than a mile and a sixteenth,” said McGaughey when asked if next month’s 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (G2) might be next on the colt’s agenda.
Bred in Kentucky, Greatest Honour is by Tapit and out of Tiffany’s Honour, by Street Cry. Greatest Honour’s second dam is Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, who reared filly champion Rags to Riches and Jazil, both Belmont S. (G1) winners.