HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — A serious Kentucky Derby prospect was expected to emerge from Wednesday's eighth race at Gulfstream Park, and that turned out to be the case.
The bettors expected Honor Code, their 1-2 favorite, to win the 11⁄16-mile $75,000 allowance race for 3-year-olds, but Social Inclusion emerged as the hot horse.
Social Inclusion never let Honor Code in the game while blazing around the Gulfstream track by himself and pulling away to a 10-length victory in a track-record time of 1:40.97 under jockey Luis Contreras.
"He was doing it so easy. I wasn't doing anything. He's a tremendous horse," said Contreras, who hand-rode Social Inclusion, the 7-5 second choice, across the finish line. Social Inclusion was making only his second lifetime start, following up a 7½ -length maiden victory on Feb. 22, in which he also set a track record.
"From the first time we trained him, we knew he was something special," said owner Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing Stable Corp. "The next step, we're going to wait and see how he comes out of the race. We'll take our time. We'll wait until next week and decide, but we definitely want to go to the (Kentucky) Derby."
Social Inclusion's 85-year-old trainer, Manny Azpurua, expects the Kentucky-bred colt to only get better with each start. "I told my wife before the race, 'You're going to see him break out of the gate and they're never going to catch him.'"
Shug McGaughey-trained Honor Code, making his first start since winning the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct last November, finished second, exactly 10 lengths behind the winner and 17½ lengths ahead of third-place finisher We're All Set.
"I knew how the race was going to set up. (Social Inclusion) had speed and he had two 35 (-second works) since he ran, so I knew he would go," McGaughey said. "I'm disappointed he didn't win, but we got a race into him and I don't think (jockey Javier Castellano) killed him by any means. We'll see if he goes forward off of this. I think the horse that won is a very, very special horse."
Castellano was hardly downcast after the defeat of Honor Code, whose training was interrupted by bruised ankles in January. "With a small field, sometimes it's hard with my horse's style. He likes to come from behind. I had to use him a little bit to be tactical and he responded," said Castellano, who rode five winners Wednesday to eclipse his own Gulfstream season record of 112 wins. "I like to look at the big picture — his season is just starting and I'm pleased with the way he came back."