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To Honor And Serve Earns Vacation

To Honor and Serve wins the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing in Bensalem, PA, September 24, 2011. Jockey is Jose Lezcano, trainer is Bill Mott, owner is Live Oak Plantation. (Joan Fairman Kanes/Eclipse Sportswire)
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 Payson [Park].”


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 season.


“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 it.”


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.”




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