To Honor and Serve is now the Leader of the Powerful Bill Mott Stable

To Honor and Serve is now the Leader of the Powerful Bill Mott Stable
Photo: NYRA/Adam Conglianese
Bill Mott has a quartet of grade one winners that should win a lot of races in the handicap divisions this summer. The four of them have won over $5 million and 11 graded stakes races.
The filly Royal Delta was part of Mott’s Breeders’ Cup Classic-Classic double with Drosselmeyer. That victory earned her the 2011 Eclipse Award for three year-old fillies. In the mean time she sold at the 2011 November Keeneland sale for $8.5 million, but she has stayed in Mott’s care. She ran second in the Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream in her 2012 debut.  That race was a prep for her trip to run in the March 31st Dubai World Cup against the boys. Royal Delta finished there, but she appears to have recovered quickly from the difficult trip. Trainer Bill Mott commented that, “She’s just started up galloping.  She’s been tack-walking and jogging, and she got to feeling so good I had to start training her. I can’t hardly hold her on the ground.”
Mott got Ron The Greek back winning in November with a victory in the Sunny and Mild Stakes at Aqueduct to which he added the Queens County and then the Santa Anita Handicap (G1).  Most recently he ran second to Alternation in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Mott has Ron The Greek aimed for the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
A recent acquisition for Mott was Flat Out. Last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and Suburban Handicap (G2) winner did not win in two tries at Gulfstream this winter for Scooter Dickey. “The earliest he would be ready is the Suburban on July 2nd,” Mott said. “That would be the earliest possible, and that might not be giving him enough time. He had a little vacation.”
Back in January I did a Point/Counterpoint with Brian Zipse about who would be the breakout star for 2012 and being a huge Bill Mott fan, I selected To Honor and Serve. I was impressed by his victories in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) and Cigar Mile (G1).  He won around two turns going a mile and an eighth while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 and then beat older horses in the one-turn mile for a 104.
Today To Honor and Serve started his 2012 campaign by toying with a field of four in the Westchester (G3) at Belmont. He beat Boys At Tosconova by five and a quarter lengths in 1:34.84 while under wraps at the end of the race.  To Honor and Serve sat eight lengths behind the leader at the half mile pole and then went right by all of them.  “When I asked him – I didn’t even ask him – I let him do it himself.  At the quarter pole he changed leads and he galloped very easy,” Jockey Jose Lezcano said about the effort.
Normally Mott’s horses need a race, but not today for the very sharp To Honor and Serve.  “He ran well. We’re happy to see him come back off that long layoff and run well,” said Mott.  When asked about the strength of his barn in the handicap division he said, “He’s (To Honor and Serve) obviously one of the leaders.  We’re fortunate.”
His win in the Westchester was an impressive prep race. “Our early season goal is the Met Mile (G1) on May 28th.  That would be a goal for anybody I suppose for any part of the season.  That would be a big accomplishment if he could do that,” Mott added.
Mott feels that To Honor and Serve is just beginning to reach his potential, “He’s matured. And that’s what I was hoping he would do from the time he was a two year-old.  You could tell he might be one of those horses who was going to be better as he got older.” 
Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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