Mott Making Plans For Big 2011


The decision by the owners of Unrivaled Belle to bring the Breeders'Cup Ladies'Classic winner back for a 5-year-old campaign is only part of the reason trainer Bill Mott probably can't wait for 2011.

On Saturday, about 20 hours after Unrivaled Belle won at Churchill, Mott's exciting 2-year-old colt, To Honor and Serve, rolled to a four-length, front-running victory in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct. In a visually impressive performance, To Honor and Serve galloped around Aqueduct's main track in fractions of 24.01 seconds, 48.27, 1:12.10, and covered one mile in 1:35.86. Jose Lezcano shook him up from the quarter pole to the eighth pole, before gearing him down in the final sixteenth.

'That was very exciting,’Mott said Monday morning, dodging sleet pellets and rain drops while attempting to work a bunch of horses at Belmont Park. 'He looked like the easiest kind of winner. I guess it was impressive to see that for a big horse he had as much early speed as he does. There were horses in there that had won going 5 1/2 [furlongs] and six that figured to show speed, and he broke right with them and was pretty much cruising in front of them.'

It was the second straight victory for To Honor and Serve, a son of Bernardini owned by the Live Oak Plantation. After finishing second to Astrology in his debut at Saratoga, To Honor and Serve won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race by 8 1/2 lengths at Belmont.

Provided there are no issues between now and Nov. 27, Mott said To Honor and Serve will make his next start in the Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen at Aqueduct going 1 1/8 miles.

'I don't think there's any pressure to run him in there, but it'd be nice to get two turns, mile and an eighth in him, and there's the possibility of picking up a little more graded earnings,' Mott said. 'That gives you a little bit of cushion I guess going into next year.'

Of course, Mott was referring to the earnings necessary to get into the Kentucky Derby field, which is limited to 20 starters. If the race oversubscribes, the field is chosen based on the horses with the most graded stakes earnings. Last year, the Mott-trained Drosselmeyer was excluded from the Derby due to insufficient earnings. Drosselmeyer won the Belmont Stakes.

Mott, 57, said To Honor and Serve is the best Derby prospect he has had.

'He's got size, speed, temperament; with the body type and the pedigree,' Mott said. 'It looks like with the package that's there, he's got a chance to run on,' Mott said. 'We saw him at a mile and a mile and a sixteenth, it looks like there's a chance a mile and an eighth and a mile and a quarter would be doable.'

Following the Remsen, To Honor and Serve will likely spend the winter at the Payson Park training center in south Florida. There he will join Unrivaled Belle, who left Kentucky on Monday afternoon by van for Payson Park, where she will get some rest but won't be taken out of training entirely before preparing for a 2011 campaign.

'She's approaching 5 and sometimes you don't want those kind to get too far away from the game,' Mott said. 'I think rest and turn out and you lighten up their training schedule, but sometimes doing nothing is not really a good thing.'

With the Breeders'Cup again going to be held at Churchill Downs in 2011, the goal for Unrivaled Belle is a return to Louisville for another shot at the Ladies'Classic. One of the early season objectives for Unrivaled Belle could be the Apple Blossom held at Oaklawn Park in early April.

Meanwhile, Mott said Proviso, who finished a disappointing seventh in the Mile would be retired. Mott said jockey Mike Smith told him that the horse slipped on the Churchill turf course.

'I don't know if there was some issue with that turf course where they were slipping around, but Mike said she showed him nothing on the turn at all,' Mott said.

Al Khali, who finished last in the Turf, would ship to south Florida and he also will race again next year.

by David Grening



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