HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

To Honor and Serve ... Is He Back?

Crushing maidens by eight lengths, second time out, much the best while being geared down in the Nashua, and then winning the Remsen impressively had the nation all on edge, waiting for To Honor and Serve to serve up a dominating win in the Fountain of Youth. The race was to be his three-year-old debut and everyone was expecting big things from the blue blooded colt. But the hopes turned out to be false, as the son of Bernardini fell flat, finishing just a so-so third.

The loss had many scratching their heads. This could not be the same horse that was looked in the eye, pressured throughout the Remsen and responding by holding off his pursuer, with measured ease, down the stretch. He not only ran dully, but after sitting in a garden spot, off a soft pace, he faded back well beaten after never really threatening. Mystified, his supporters blamed the loss on rust, and that he would bounce back in the Florida Derby. The result was another dull third, after racing on a dead rail and only making a slight move before fading back.

It was later found that To Honor and Serve had injured his suspensory ligament. It was five months before we would see him again, this time sprinting six and a half furlongs in the Amsterdam Stakes. Hopes were high again, hoping to see the colt regain his form and he did not. Too fresh coming off the layoff and got hooked into a speed duel with Arch Traveler, which left him empty in the stretch.

After the Amsterdam, trainer Bill Mott decided that maybe it was time for a confidence booster. He entered To Honor and Serve in a nine furlong allowance against older horses. After three straight disappointments, the bettors still had faith, making him the even money favorite. He rewarded them in a big way, rating just off the lead, making his move, and never looking back. He crossed the wire in a sharp 1.48.13, the fastest nine furlongs he had ever run.

Mott now has his star pointed towards the Grade two, one million dollar, Pennsylvania Derby. The brilliant To Honor and Serve we saw in his last outing would be a deserving favorite and most likely win this race, but how do we know that To Honor and Serve will show and not the one that lost three in a row? There are plenty of horses that can run fast times, but once a pecking order is established it is hard to break. Is To Honor and Serve on of those brilliantly fast horses that needs to run against weaker to run his best race or is he a leader that will fight for the win?

So far, it looks as though he may be the type that will not run when faced with a strong willed opponent. It would seem that from his track record, that To Honor and Serves needs to run with weaker to feel stronger and to run his top race. But until the gates open, all of this is just theory, and I will be watching with interest to see if To Honor and Serve is indeed back.


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Older Comments about To Honor and Serve ... Is He Back?...

I do not think this field is weak at all. You have the Travers runner up and third place finisher and the Belmont winner, just off the top of my head. Plus the surface can be a little bit quirky at times. If THAS is the type of horse that can't go eye to eye with top horses he will run third to horses that may not be nearly as talented. From what i have seen this year he won't go by a horse if they fight back and they are abreast eachother.
champion2011: That is a good point. Wonder if Velazquez thinks that Rattlesnake is the better horse?
THAS did look strong in his him alot in this race. One question...does anyone know why JVelasquez is riding Rattlesnake Ridge instead of THAS? Just wanted to know if anyone had an insight on this. Thanks.
I see no reason he can't win the PA Derby. He looked like his old self last out, and I think he needed that time off. This is not the strongest crop of 3 yos. I think he wins this Saturday
I saw his last race at Saratoga and he looked great. Bernardini colts seem to get better with time and distance. He should have a big shot in the Pennsylvania Derby and since this is a pretty weak group of older horses, he could also have a good chance in the Breeders Cup Classic.
Personally I hope the best for THAS, as I had stated earlier this year I am a fan of his,and I wish the best for team MOTT,LOL.
If Bill Mott has his eyes on the BC, he has brought this colt back very patiently. The Amsterdam was his first race off of the shelf, but that last effort was eye-opening. If he feels he's on course, then a big effort would be expected, for a trip to the BC.

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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,, 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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