To Honor and Serve, who on Saturday gave
Hall of Famer Bill Mott his first victory in the Cigar Mile since it was
renamed in 1997 for the trainer’s champion charge, was reported to be
resting comfortably on Sunday morning as he awaited a van to owner Charlotte
Weber’s Live Oak Plantation.
“He’s good,” said Mott’s assistant, Leana
Willaford. “He’ll get a little freshening and then join us back at
A perfect 3-for-3 at Aqueduct Race Track having won last year’s
Grade 2 Nashua and Grade 2 Remsen as a juvenile, To Honor and Serve skipped the
Triple Crown series after third-place finishes in both the Grade 2 Fountain of
Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream
Park. Sixth in his
comeback race, the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course, he parlayed an
impressive optional claiming win at the Spa into a victory in the Grade 2
Pennsylvania Derby at Parx before finishing seventh, beaten just 3 ½ lengths,
in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs earlier this month.
Weber revealed after Saturday’s race that the son of Bernardini
would be back for a 4-year-old campaign, and Willaford said she was impressed
with the way the colt has matured through the latter half of his sophomore
“He’s obviously more mature, maybe a little taller and
longer,” Willaford noted. “He hasn’t really gotten more
muscular, but that will come hopefully next year; he’s still growing.
Even from the spring until the last three weeks training here since the
Breeders’ Cup, he’s just really, really been doing well and
settling in. His gallops have gotten more controlled. He’s getting
November has been a banner month for the Mott barn, with Grade 1 wins
in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Drosselmeyer), Breeders’ Cup Ladies
Classic (Royal Delta) and Cigar Mile after a slow start to 2011.
“It just kind of slowly has progressed,” Willaford said.
“You don’t want to come out swinging and fizzle late. But they all
got beat at the beginning of the year – Royal Delta and Drosselmeyer and
this guy was a little compromised when we started out on the Derby trail. As usual, Bill did the right
thing and said ‘OK, stop. Let’s give him some time and regroup,’
and it worked out.”