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 record-setting
victory on Saturday in the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx
“He ran very well,” said Mott. “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
The 3-year-old Bernardini colt completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.34,
defeating Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice by 2 ¼ lengths and running the
fastest timing of the race in 32 editions.
As a 2-year-old, To Honor and Serve won both the Grade 2 Nashua and
Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct Racetrack, stamping himself as an early Triple Crown
contender. After third-place finishes in both the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and
Grade 1 Florida Derby, 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 Grade 2 Amsterdam run at 6 ½ furlongs. He resurfaced 25
days later in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race and cruised to a dominant 8 ¼-length
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 Grade 1, $5
million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 5.
“He looked good last night,” said Mott. “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’s star 3-year-old filly, Royal
Delta, is expected to work at Belmont Park
“She is doing well, and will probably breeze tomorrow after the
break,” said Mott.
The daughter of Empire Maker, owned by Palides Investments, was
extremely impressive last time out, catapulting to a 5 ½-length victory in the
Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga
on August 20.
Mott said that the current plan is to run her against older fillies and
mares in the Grade 1, $350,000 Beldame Invitational on Super Saturday, October
1, at Belmont Park, in a race that is also expected to feature Havre de Grace,
most recently seen beating the boys in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward.
“As we speak right now, the plan is to go to the Beldame, but
that could change,” said Mott, who mentioned the Grade 2 Cotillion at
Parx on October 1 and the Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland on October 9 as
Mott added that he is also hoping to work 4-year-old filly Deluxe and 2-year-old filly Alaura Michele at Belmont on Monday for
possible starts in the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational next Saturday
and the Grade 3, $100,000 Miss Grillo next Sunday, respectively.
Deluxe, by Storm Cat, is out of one of the most productive mares of all
time in Hasili, making her a half-sibling to Group 2 winner and influential
stallion Dansili and Grade/Group 1 winners Banks Hill, Heat Haze,
Intercontinental, Champs Elysees, and Cacique.
In May 2010, Deluxe ran second in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary 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.
Alaura Michele, a 2-year-old daughter of Arch, is undefeated in two
turf starts, most recently registering an impressive 2 ¼-length score in the P.
G. Johnson 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.