Shug McGaughey

Top Kentucky Derby Trainers – Shug McGaughey

In the weeks leading up to the 140th Run for the Roses, many who plan to bet on the Kentucky Derby are wondering whether Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey can pull off yet another impressive win. Last year’s event saw his colt Orb take the final stretch by storm, galloping to a muddy 2 1/2 length victory over Golden Soul  and awarding the famed trainer his first-ever Derby win.

Though the road is still wide open and the list of possible Kentucky Derby contenders is subject to change, it’s looking as though McGaughey could very possibly return to Churchill Downs in May, this time with dark bay colt Honor Code.

For those of you who plan on betting on the Kentucky Derby this year, here’s a brief recap of what Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey has accomplished over the course of his career. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, McGaughey’s been training thoroughbreds since 1979. He’s won over 1,776 events for a combined $120,487,559 in purses and has worked with some of the most renowned horses to hit the races, including Hall of Famers Easy Goer, Personal Ensign and Inside Information.

Of McGaughey’s many victories, more than 240 of them were in graded stakes races. He’s secured nine Breeders’ Cup wins, ranking second behind D. Wayne Lukas; has landed one Belmont Stakes victory and experienced his first Kentucky Derby win last year with the now-retired Orb. In terms of accolades, McGaughey won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 1988, and in 2004 was formally acknowledged for his many successes with an induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Now that we’ve outlined McGaughey’s numerous achievements, let’s take a look at his Derby hopeful, Honor Code. Sired by multiple graded stakes winner AP Indy, it’s clear from his lineage that this colt has victory flowing through his veins.  After breaking his maiden at Saratoga last August, Honor Code went on to finish second in the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne Stakes – a narrow defeat that saw Todd Pletcher’s  colt Havana beat him by a neck. He bounced back from his loss in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes in November, where he made use of his natural stamina – a gift from his sire – and closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a first place victory over Nashua Stakes winner Cairo Prince.

Though forced to pull out of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes due to slight bruising on the back of his ankles, McGaughey isn’t worried, expecting the colt to be back on his feet in no time. As for what we can expect from Honor Code in the coming weeks, we’ll just have to wait and see. Only time will tell whether this thoroughbred beats the Kentucky Derby odds to lock in a position at the starting gate at Churchill Downs come May 3.