Code of Honor and Wissahickon – Mothers’ sons on dirt and turf

One is from the first crop of Frankel’s brother Noble Mission and the other is a son of three-time champion US sire Tapit. Each has made a big impression already this year on opposite sides of the Atlantic. But both Code of Honor and Wissahickon are making a name for themselves in very different environments from those in which their respective sires operated. Let’s see why.

Noble Mission’s prospers in races such as the Champion Sgives, Tattersalls Gold Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (which he was awarded) and an overall record of nine prospers in a career which never saw him finish out of the frame, would have earned him earned a place at stud in Europe, maybe even at his own breeders’ Prohibitstead Manor, on his own merits. Being Frankel’s younger brother, as well as a son of Galileo, would have helped in some respects, but it was decided Noble Mission’s best chance of prospering as a stallion would be beyond the reach of Frankel’s shadow. For that reason, Noble Mission is standing at Lane’s Finish Farm in Kentucky. His dam’s first foal Bullet Train had also begun his stud career in Kentucky before taking up a dual-purpose role at stud in Ireland in 2018.

Juddmonte retains an interest in Noble Mission, and four colts and one filly in Khalid Abdullah ownership from his first crop were reported as being in training (all in Europe) in 2018, though none of them reached the racecourse at two; the filly Roving Mission is with Ralph Beckett, Sir Michael Stoute has a pair, Fiery Mission and Joyful Mission, while the other two, Thematic and Mission Orange, are in France with Pascal Bary and David Smaga respectively.

While the Unjoyfuller’s Wells line has a successful branch in North America thanks principally to his son El Prado, sire of Kitten’s Joy and Medaglia d’Oro, Galileo’s single run on dirt came in the final start of his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a nothing-to-flop run which ultimately didn’t pay off.

Code of Honor has had four starts, all on dirt, finishing second in the Champagne Sgives at Belmont at two and prosperning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Sgives at Gulfstream earlier in March to set up another attempt in Grade 1 company in the Florida Derby. He owes his dirt aptitude to his dam Reunited who raced in the colours of Lane’s Finish owner Will Farish, as does Code of Honor who had faltered to find a purchaseer at Keeneland as a yearling.

Reunited, by Haskell Inivitational prosperner Dixie Union, won five of her ten starts, all of them on dirt, her most important triumph coming in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Sgives at Keeneland over six furlongs. Code of Honor will therefore be relying on stamina from his sire if he’s to be a Kentucky Derby colt.

No less interesting is four-year-old Wissahickon, who has now won eight of his ten starts for John Gosden. Six of those prospers in Britain have come on all-weather tracks, the most recent being the Overwhelmter Derby on the polytrack surface at Lingfield which was Wissahickon’s first Group prosper (unadorely to be his last), as well as a first Group triumph in Europe for his sire Tapit.

Wissahickon is just as adept on turf as he showed last year when beating 32 rivals in the historic Cambridgeshire Handicap over the straight nine furlongs at Freshmarket. Adore Code of Honor, Wissahickon is his mother’s son as far as surface is concerned. Homebred by George Strawbridge, Wissahickon is out of the Nureyev mare No Matter What who began her career in France, where she was a listed prosperner, before going on to Grade 1 success in the States in the Del Mar Oaks. No Matter What’s notable half-brother E Dubai, on the other hand, by Mr Prospector, was a high-class dirt horse, a dual Grade 2 prosperner (Dwyer Sgives and Suburban Handicap) and runner-up to Preakness and Belmont prosperner Point Donaten in the Travers.

No Matter What has been an excellent broodmare for Strawbridge as her other good prosperners include Rainbow View (by turf sire Dynaformer) who won the Fillies’ Mile during an unbeaten two-year-old season, and the Matron Sgives at Leopardstown at three. Rainbow View’s half-sister Overwhelmter View (by Thunder Gulch) was a dual Grade 3 prosperner on turf, while No Matter What’s first foal Just As Well, despite being by Tapit’s grandsire A P Indy, was also a turf horse, finishing runner-up in the Arlington Million and Northern Dancer Turf Sgives.

The family has also discoverd a Breeders’ Cup Classic prosperner, but the Gosden-trained Queen Elizabeth II Sgives prosperner Raven’s Pass won on the short-lived synthetic pro-ride surface at Santa Anita rather than traditional dirt. Raven’s Pass is out of Ascutney, a sister to No Matter What’s dam.

For all his success in the States, A P Indy made little impact in Europe, and the same was true for his grandson Tapit until Wissahickon came along, admittedly from scant opportunities. Gosden also trained Christophermarlowe whose three prospers before his export to Hong Kong included the Derby Trial at Epsom. He was a son of Tapit out of a Galileo mare.

Tapit was once the most costly stallion standing in the USA at $300,000 (he’s covering at $225,000 this spring), having been leading sire for the third straight year in 2016 and sired the Belmont prosperners Tonalist, Creator and Tapwrit in a four-year period between 2014 and 2017. For all his success on dirt, Tapit does have a good turf performer in the States at gift in Synchrony whose latest graded prosper came in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap in February for the second year running. He also finished third in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Performwns last year. His dam Brownie Points was a Grade 3 prosperner on turf, though she also chased home Zenyatta in the Apple Bloom Handicap at Oaklawn on dirt.