Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Is this the real To Honor and Serve?

At the top of the stretch it was To Honor and Serve and as they entered the final furlong here came Mucho Macho Man to his flank…but it still was To Honor and Serve. In the final sixteenth of a mile Mucho Macho Man was at his throatlatch, but still To Honor and Serve remained resolute. As they hit the wire, To Honor and Serve prevailed by a hard fought, well-earned neck.
The Woodward was supposed to be Mucho Macho Man’s coming out party. The only bad race the late developing son of Macho Uno had run during 2012 was the Alysheba Stakes. There he was third, in his other three starts he had been brilliant.
To Honor and Serve, brilliant in last year’s Cigar Mile and in this year’s Westchester was coming off of two straight losses, one of them to Mucho Macho Man. He had an excuse in the Met Mile, but what happened in the Suburban? He ran fourth, with seemingly no excuse. Saturday, however, would not be like his past two outings. Saturday he came back with a vengeance, and not only did he win, he showed that he could dig down and fight back when challenged.
Coming out of the Woodward, one has to question just what went wrong earlier this year, and can To Honor and Serve keep on winning? Many would say he’s in consistent, yet he has 8 wins from 15 starts and has only ever finished worse than third three times. Once in the Suburban, where he was fourth, a second time in the Amsterdam, where he finished 6th going six and a half furlongs, the final time coming in the 2011 Breeders Cup Classic, where he was 7th. Last year he could have been among many that disliked the peanut buttery mess that was Churchill Down’s main track. One could also argue he also dislikes Belmont. Yes, he won the Westchester, however, who exactly was he facing in that race? Certainly nobody noteworthy, unlike the Suburban and Met Mile. Both of those races contained several of the division's heavyweights.
Is he just a horse that likes running in cooler weather, say winter or fall-like climates? He started his Juvenile campaign in September, and ran four times, winning three and running second once. As a three year old he ran twice earlier in the year, however, both starts were in the warm and humid state of Florida. He did run sixth in his return at Saratoga, however, that race was much too short for his liking. In his next two starts he won dominantly, they were an allowance optional claimer, at Saratoga, and the Pennsylvania Derby. He threw a clunker at Churchill, in the Breeders Cup, but so did several other highly esteemed horses. After that he came back to give a scintillating performance in the Cigar Mile. That race had him rated as one of the older males to watch coming into 2012.
Now here we are. To Honor and Serve redeems himself in the Woodward Stakes and could very well get another race before the Breeders Cup Championships. Personally, I would hope that if his connections would like to see the colt in the Classic that they aim towards either the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Awesome Again stakes at Santa Anita, where the Breeders Cup will be held.
Should To Honor and Serve win either one of those races, there is no doubt that he would be place right behind Game On Dude in the race for Horse of the Year. Both have finished out of the money once this year, both have one grade one win, both are grade one placed, and both have won at least one other graded stakes. It would be likely that the two would meet in the Awesome Again, should Mott take that route, meaning a win by either would set the stage for a rubber match in the Classic, where the winner there would most likely be crowned Horse of the Year.
Can To Honor and Serve live up to the potential and brilliance he has shown on so many occasions? If he can we will be in for one heck of a ride these next couple of months.


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Older Comments about Is this the real To Honor and Serve?...

Probably one fact that's most impressing, is that THAS was one of the early Derby favorites, but after the Florida Derby, Mott had to put him on the shelf. He was patient in bringing him back, and, if Mott ever believed in him, then the horse could be close to being back on course.
No denying that Mott has a ton of good horses in his stable this year. He has arguably the 3 of the top 5 older males running.
DeadHeat, the one thing that he may have going for him, is that he is under the tutelage of William Mott, who strung together an impressive amount of wins for Cigar. One quandary that might be facing Mott, is the possible emergence of Ron The Greek and/or Flat Out, who he recently inherited.
Cause, no, he doesn't have a bad track record, which is why I do not say he is an inconsistent horse. I, like you just wonder if he has put everything together, now, to the point that he can continue to show the type of brilliance that makes him one of the best of his generation.
8-for-15 lifetime. Twice he's had back-to-back wins; once he had a string of 3 straight wins. His run at the BCC was compromised by being steadied at the 7/8's pole. Prior to that, he was in second, only one length. Despite his steadying incident he was a close-up 7th, 3 1/2 lengths back. Don't know if he can step up to the next level, but, he doesn't seem to have that bad of a track record, thus far.
been an in and outer all career
Greg, it is a good question to ask, because he has not yet shown that he can continue to run his best over a course longer than three starts. Should he show he can perform at this level and do it consistently the question will be answered.
i don't get how you can ask is this the real to honor and serve, all it took was giving time. just needed time to get back on his feet. he has always been a pretty great horse. just like others who have also lost.
He ran a great race running third to Shackleford and Caleb's posse. I agree about keeping Johny V on him. As for MMM he has the potential to get even better as it seems he hasn't peaked yet.I know MMM had a tough trip but when he caught THAS serve he was easily brushed off. I wonder what if anything caused the complete reversal of form in Stay Thirsty which in my mind started in the BCC where I had him in a lot of different combos.Leaving him out of this last one seemed insane to me but I kept looking for a way to get him in the mix and couldn't. Sometimes I guess you can see it others you can't.Love gambling, it's like a thrill ride on a giant roller coaster.
My personal opinion is he needs his trip. Give him that and he will fight back and will prove one of the best. He could dislike humidity, however last year i wonder if it was that, or the ligament issue he had early on. Also, he has been extremely good when ridden by Johnny V. With him on his back, he has never come in worse than third, and actually has a 4 wins out the six times he has ridden him. I hope they keep him this time, because he has done the best with THAS of any rider, by far.
I agree with DeadHeat. Just because he does't win all the time does not mean he is inconsistent, as his in the money stats are great.
I would hardly call him average. The longest dry streak he had was last year when he went 0 for three. He can normally put back to back efforts together, in face he had done so up until the Westchester. I believe that was the first time in his career where he did not put back to back wins together. For me, the inconsistent theory is out. He has won or placed in 12 of 15 stars, which is hardly inconsistent.
Ya to me he seems like a flash in the pan... Great one day and average for 5 in a row..
I'm going to go out on a limb and say he will never beat Mucho Macho Man again.
When THAS brings his best he is as good as any older horse.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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