The 1 1/8-mile Remsen completes a sterling sequence of four stakes races, along with the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap, the Grade 3, $400,000 Comely Stakes and the Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle Stakes.
"Never was on our radar screen," McGaughey said of a possible run by Honor Code in the Breeders' Cup. "I didn't want to take a horse out there that had run two times and run him over that track against horses that had been jazzed up just for that race. We want to have a nice 3-year-old. There was never really any discussion about it."
There has, however, been plenty of discussion about Honor Code. In his debut August 31 on a sloppy track at Saratoga, he fell 22 lengths off the pace after a half-mile in 46 seconds, yet by the end of the seven-furlong race, he was 4 ½ in front.
In the six other dirt sprints run that day at Saratoga, no winner came from farther than two lengths back.
Honor Code, the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Remsen, next ran in the Foxwoods Champagne at Belmont Park. When the gate opened, he dropped back to last in the field of nine, 11 lengths behind an opening half-mile in 46.08 seconds. On the turn for home, he fanned eight wide and then proceeded to vacuum up the lengths between him and winner Havana only to be beaten by a neck.
Honor Code, owned by Lane's End Racing, drew the No. 4 post position in the nine-horse Remsen field, and McGaughey said rider Javier Castellano should benefit from his experience in the Foxwoods Champagne.
"Javier rode him great that day, and I think he'll understand him a little better," said McGaughey, who won the Kentucky Derby this year with Orb. "That was the first time he had been on him at all.
"It will be interesting to see him going around two turns, a mile and an eighth and where he places himself," McGaughey added. "He's done everything pretty well since the Champagne, and we're looking forward to running around two turns and stretching him out a little bit and see where it takes us."
Honor Code's principal rival appears to be Cairo Prince, 2-1 on the morning line, who enters the Remsen off an authoritative 2 ½-length victory in the Grade 2 Nashua on November 3 at Aqueduct.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Namcook Stables, Cairo Prince won his debut as well, and his running style suggests he will get an early jump on Honor Code.
In the Nashua, a one-turn mile, Cairo started on the outside in a 12-horse field and ran in the clear the entire way, on the outside tracking dueling leaders in fourth place before opening up at the top of the stretch and cruising home under a hand ride.
"We don't think he has to be in the clear; it just happened he drew the 12 [post] and was clear," McLaughlin said. "He hasn't taken dirt in his face, but he's done everything right, and he's a classy horse. We expect him to do well in the Remsen."
Noble Moon, 6-1, was bumped hard at the start of the Nashua, when Financial Mogul veered out into a line of horses. A $200,000 son of Malibu Moon, Noble Moon dropped back to last place in that race but rallied powerfully on the outside to finish third, beaten just three lengths.
The colt, who showed good speed in his debut, dueling with two others before winning by three-quarters of a length, drew the rail for the Remsen.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will run an uncoupled entry in the Remsen, with Master Lightning, 15-1, and Intense Holiday, 8-1, both who were beaten in the Nashua.
Intense Holiday, a $380,000 son of Harlan's Holiday, finished fourth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths in the Nashua after a wide journey around the turn, and Pletcher said, "I thought, arguably, he was the second-best horse in the Nashua."
Master Lightning, Pletcher said, "had a pretty difficult trip in the Nashua and never got into a rhythm."
Afleet Accompli, 20-1; Mental Iceberg, 30-1; Matuszak, 15-1; and Wicked Strong, 8-1, complete the field.