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BC Dirt Mile or Classic for To Honor and Serve?

To Honor And Serve breaks maiden at Belmont Park (10-2-10).
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was all smiles Sunday morning as he reported that To Honor and Serve emerged from his victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward in excellent shape.


“He looks great,” said Mott of To Honor and Serve, who won for the eighth time in 15 career starts, with six of those victories coming in graded stakes. “It was nice to see him come back.”


Mott, who trains To Honor and Serve for Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation, said the Breeders’ Cup on November 3 at Santa Anita would be the final major objective for the 4-year-old colt, who then will stand as a stallion at Gainesway Farm.


“Obviously, working backward, we want to go to California and we want to go to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Mott. “We’d have to decide whether we’d run in the [Dirt] Mile or the Classic. I think the connections, obviously, if at all possible and if we had a chance, would like to run in the Classic.”


While To Honor and Serve went into the 1 1/8-mile Woodward off an eight-week freshening, Mott said he would consider a race in between.


“Looking at the Belmont schedule for him, maybe we’d have a look at the Kelso [Handicap, one mile, September 29], although it’s going back from a Grade 1 to a Grade 2, and it’s a handicap, so we’d have to see what happens with the weights,” said Mott.  “It’s on the list of things to think about.


“There’s nothing wrong with having a little momentum, a regular schedule [going into the Breeders’ Cup],” he said. “I mean, Cigar ran in the Woodward, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic and it wasn’t too much for him. But there aren’t many Cigars, I suppose.”


The mention of Cigar brought to Mott’s mind another of his many champions –

Theatrical, who died Friday at the age of 30. A winner of $2.9 million and 10 of his 22 career starts, including six Grade 1s, Theatrical went on to sire 81 stakes winners.


“He was probably one of the best horses I ever trained, or ever will train,” said Mott. “He was my first champion, my first Breeders’ Cup [1987 Turf] winner. He won six Grade 1 stakes my first year in New York , and I trained a ton of stakes winners by him. He bought my first home in New York , single-handedly. He was probably the most life-changing horse I ever had.”



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