To Honor And Serve Eyes BC Classic
To Honor and Serve Eyes BC Classic
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was at his Belmont Park barn Sunday morning and pleased, albeit not altogether surprised, with TO HONOR AND SERVE's (Bernardini) record-setting victory in Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at Parx Racing.
"He ran very well," Mott said. "It was not a total surprise coming off his previous race in Saratoga. He had displayed that he was moving in the right direction. He did it again yesterday."
The three-year-old colt completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.34, defeating Belmont S. (G1) winner Ruler on Ice (Roman Ruler) by 2 1/4 lengths and running the fastest timing of the race in 32 editions.
As a two-year-old, To Honor and Serve won both the Nashua S. (G2) and the Remsen S. (G2) at Aqueduct, stamping himself as an early Triple Crown contender. After third-place finishes in both the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) and the Florida Derby (G1), he was sidelined with a suspensory ligament injury to his left foreleg.
He returned to the races four months later at Saratoga Race Course, running sixth in the Amsterdam S. (G2) run at 6 1/2 furlongs. He resurfaced 25 days later in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race and cruised to a dominant 8 1/4-length victory.
Mott said that the colt, owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, came out of the race well and could go on to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on November 5.
"He looked good last night," Mott said. "We shipped him back to Saratoga and he will train up there for a while.
"We discussed (going to the Breeders' Cup Classic) after the race. The timing would be right and things have kind of fallen into place by fate. I'm sure Mrs. Weber and everybody else on the team would be excited to go if he is doing well."
Mott also spoke of a few other graded stakes-bound pupils, including Alabama S. (G1) romper ROYAL DELTA (Empire Maker), who is expected to work at Belmont Park on Monday.
"She is doing well, and will probably breeze tomorrow after the (renovation) break," Mott said.
The sophomore filly, owned by Palides Investments, was extremely impressive last time out, catapulting to a 5 1/2-length victory in the Alabama at Saratoga on August 20.
Mott said that the current plan is to run her against older fillies and mares in the Beldame Invitational (G1) on Super Saturday at Belmont Park, in a race that is also expected to feature Havre de Grace (Saint Liam), most recently seen beating the boys in Saratoga's Woodward S. (G1).
"As we speak right now, the plan is to go to the Beldame, but that could change," said Mott, who mentioned Saturday's Cotillion (G2) at Parx and the Spinster S. (G1) at Keeneland on October 9 as possible destinations.
Mott added that he is also hoping to work four-year-old filly DELUXE (Storm Cat) and two-year-old filly ALAURA MICHELE (Arch) at Belmont on Monday for possible starts in Super Saturday's Flower Bowl Invitational S. (G1) and next Sunday's Miss Grillo S. (G3), respectively.
Deluxe is out of one of the most productive mares of all time in Hasili (Ire), making her a half-sibling to French highweight and influential stallion Dansili (GB); champions Banks Hill (GB), Intercontinental (GB) and Champs Elysees (GB); and multiple Grade 1 winners Heat Haze (GB) and Cacique (Ire).
In May 2010, Deluxe ran second in the Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-G1) at Longchamp. After a subpar Group 3 performance last October, the Juddmonte-owned filly was eventually transferred to Mott. Her first race for him was in the Paris Opera overnight stakes at Saratoga, in which she finished a fast-closing second by a head to Sugar Again (Syncline).
Alaura Michele is undefeated in two turf starts, most recently registering an impressive 2 1/4-length score in the P.G. Johnson S. at Saratoga on August 31.
Mott indicated that she came into contact with a virus after that race, but is fully recovered now and back on the track. If she breezes on Monday, it will be the first since her most recent race.
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