Race of the Week 2017

To Honor And Serve Heads Star-Studded Suburban

A versatile and accomplished group of older horses will assemble Saturday at Belmont Park for the 127th running of the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap, one of the oldest and most venerated races in the country.

Topping the field for the 1 1/8-mile race are Grade 1 winners To Honor and Serve and Stay Thirsty, who between them have won eight graded stakes and more than $2.8 million. Another eight graded stakes and $4.1 million in earnings is divvied up among the remaining six entrants, including 4-1 third choice Mucho Macho Man.

To Honor and Serve enters the Suburban off a career-high 109 Beyer Speed Figure, earned when finishing third after an eventful trip from the rail as the favorite in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Winner of the 2011 Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap and the Grade 3 Westchester in April, To Honor and Serve will be making his first start at the Suburban distance since taking the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing last fall.

“He’s extremely good at a mile, but he’s classy enough to get 1 1/8 miles,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who trains the Bernardini colt for Live Oak Plantation. “In the Met Mile, I think he was extremely compromised by his post position and – not to take anything away from the first two finishers – didn’t have the smoothest of trips.”

To Honor and Serve is the starting high weight under 120 pounds, including Jose Lezcano, and will leave from the outside, having drawn post position 8.

Stay Thirsty, who took last year’s Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga Race Course for owner Mike Repole, was runner-up to fellow Suburban entrant Trickmeister as the even-money favorite in his 2012 debut, the Vanlandingham overnight stakes on May 17. No worse than third in four lifetime starts at Belmont, the 4-year-old Bernardini colt tuned up for the Suburban on Sunday with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.05.

“With this being his second race off a layoff, we’re obviously looking for him to move forward,” said Michael McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “He’s been very sharp since the race, and we’re hoping this will set us on our way to a very, very productive summer.”

Javier Castellano will ride Stay Thirsty from post position 2, directly inside Repole Stable’s Caixa Eletronica. The entry was listed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.

Winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park in January at the Suburban distance, Mucho Macho Man will be seeking his third victory of 2012, having also taken the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March and finishing third as the favorite in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs on May 4.

With a new jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, in the irons, Mucho Macho Man drew post position 7.

Hoping to earn his first graded stakes victory is Godolphin Stable’s Buffum, whose eight-length victory in a one-mile optional claimer on May 28 in his 4-year-old debut earned him a career-high 105 Beyer.

“His first race back was huge coming off the layoff,” said trainer Tom Albertrani of Buffum, who like Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve, is by Bernardini. “He’s trained very well since then, and we’re hoping he can run the same race back.”

A $1.2 million yearling purchase and a first-out maiden winner in October, 2010, Buffum next was fifth behind winner To Honor and Serve in the Grade 2 Remsen. He was immediately shipped to Dubai, where he was fifth in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas in his 2011 debut, and then returned to finish fourth in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct Racetrack in April.

Given time off, Buffum returned to take a seven-furlong allowance at Saratoga Race Course by 10 lengths and closed out his 3-year-old campaign with a two-length score in an optional claimer at Belmont.

“The horse really never had a chance to settle in one place; there was a lot going on early in his career,” said Albertrani. “He’s been here at Belmont now since the spring; we’ll see if he’s able to compete at this level on Saturday.”

Drawing post 4 at 8-1 on the morning line, Buffum will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh.

Completing the field are multiple graded-stakes winner Endorsement, who was a game third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special last time out; Grade 1 Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book, fifth in the Pimlico Special, and Trickmeister, whose lone loss in seven starts came when he was sixth behind Hymn Book in the Donn, his only other graded stakes appearance.

The field for the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap:

Prog. #    PP






1                2

Stay Thirsty (KY)

J Castellano


T A Pletcher


1a              3

Caixa Eletronica (KY)

E Castro


T A Pletcher


2                1

Endorsement (KY)

M Garcia


E G Harty


3                4

Buffum (PA)

R Maragh


T Albertrani


4                5

Hymn Book (KY)

A Garcia


C R McGaughey III


5                6

Trickmeister (KY)

R A Dominguez


R E Dutrow, Jr.


6                7

Mucho Macho Man (FL)

M E Smith


K Ritvo


7                8

To Honor and Serve (KY)

J Lezcano


W I Mott




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Older Comments about To Honor And Serve Heads Star-Studded Suburban...

MMM at 5-1, paying 13.60. Are you kidding me? I will take those odds all day.
I'm picking the easy one, Ruffian75. Yes, he has designs for To Honor And Serve. Flat Out can pick up the easier win or place at Monmouth. He needs to get out of the slump.
Going to box Caixa Electronica/Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve, and Mucho Macho Man. I want To Honor and Serve or MMM to win, those two are one of my favorite 4 yr. Colts on Dirt...
Also, a comment re: Caixa Eletronica. Pletcher ran him in the Met Mile, running fourth, one place behind THAS. He then ships to Churchill, and wins on the Stephen Foster undercard. Now, he ships back for the Suburban. The Churchill-to-Belmont route is the same for last year's winner, Flat Out. I seem to think Pletcher might be sitting on a horse, that could be in the process of "blossoming" at the right time?
A thought that crossed my mind. Anyone notice that Mott inherited Flat Out into his stable, who is the defending Suburban champ, and has opted to run him at Monmouth tomorrow? It seems that the defending champ should be allowed to defend his title. Does he have designs for To Honor And Serve? Or, could Flat Out upset his apple cart, if he were to enter in the Suburban vs. THAS?
Endorsement should win.
That's OK; it's better than getting hit by the water truck.
Sorry. "if the class had been called". And, that was a poor stab, on my part, at a joke. I guess my audition for a stand-up routine, is a failure. Oh well, I was in a photo with the water truck.
Could it be "if the had been called"? Wow!!!!! I'm standing on my toes; it's(or is it "its") going over my head. I used to be uncertain; but, I'm not so sure, now.
Stay Thirsty will win the Suburban!
Or, subjunctively "if the class were called". . .
If the class is called, English Grammar And Composition, then, yes, it's was, otherwise you would use were.
Hey, but since you own horse racing, that's cool, tv.
They teach females to not take a back seat.
Solid field...going with THAS and Endorsement
I am glad I grew up in a time when English grammar and compostion was taught in school. It really helped in communciating so that all, WHO UNDERSTOOD ENGLISH, could understand it. What schools are not teachig these days is frightening.
Yah, It's that you're an unsexy teacher, jedi odds master, and a wee heavy on the" I will school this tot unless someone drags her to their cave by her hair" slant. Picks/why. Great.
I knew icy would understand. A good friend and mentor of mine is fond of saying: HORSEPLAYERS learn this game backwards. If one does not have a handle of probablities and wagering intuition first, they have little business opening their wallets.
If I get 9/5 on this guy that's about 70% of my bet. I don't see how he can be more than 7/5 though.
Make your selections, see if the odds are there for the type of wager you want to make (it won't be), I'll take a shot at everything if the odds are there but right now it looks like ex,tri, super. THAS(win/win/win/, Hym Book, Endorsement. The ALL button can be nuclear in this field.

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