Live Oak Plantation's TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini) will now head to Florida as one of next year's leading classic prospects following a comfortable score in Saturday's $196,000 Remsen S. (G2) at Aqueduct. Already highly thought of before entering the starting gate as the 3-5 favorite in the Remsen, the Bill Mott trainee enhanced his burgeoning reputation while showcasing his talents at nine furlongs.
Sent to the lead by John Velazquez, To Honor and Serve was able to avoid a heel-clipping incident that involved several of his rivals around the clubhouse turn. Chased by Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) and Mountain Town (Cape Town), To Honor and Serve maintained a one-length advantage through splits of :24 1/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11. Turning for home, the long-time leader opened up to lead by four lengths, a margin whittled down to two lengths at the wire as Velazquez just nudged him along under a hand ride. The time of 1:50 over a fast track was nearly three seconds faster than the Demoiselle S. (G2) for juvenile fillies one race earlier and one second faster than the Gazelle S. (G1) for three-year-old fillies one race later.
"I let him do whatever he wanted to do -- I didn't want to be on his mouth," Velazquez said. "He's a big baby, a late foal and he needs some time to mature. He gets to the lead, and he gets to looking around. He hasn't put it all together yet. It was a good effort."
To Honor and Serve paid $3.20, $2.50 and $2.10. Mucho Macho Man gave back $6.10 and $3.10 as the 15-1 longest shot. It was three lengths back to Mountain Town, who returned $2.60 at 4-1. Bandbox (Tapit) was 13 lengths back in fourth, with sharp debut winner Buffum (Bernardini) the disappointment of the field when trailing home two lengths farther back. Pants on Fire (Jump Start) and Economic Summit (Malibu Moon) were scratched. The exacta paid $20.60 and the 5-7-3 trifecta gave back $47.
"It would have been nice to see him have to pass somebody, but that's just the way the race turned out" said Mott, who imagined Buffum would show more speed. "As with any horse like him, we'll nominate him for everything in case there's a hiccup anywhere."
Second to subsequent Iroquois S. (G3) winner Astrology (A.P. Indy) in his September 4 debut at Saratoga, To Honor and Serve next rolled to an 8 3/4-length triumph in an off-the-turf maiden at Belmont Park on October 2. Last time, in the November 6 Nashua S. (G2) at the Big A, To Honor and Serve rolled to a four-length triumph in the one-mile test. His bankroll now stands at $264,640.
Bred in Kentucky by Twins Creeks Farm, Larry Byer and Rancho San Miguel, To Honor and Serve was a $575,000 Keeneland September yearling. The first starter from the stakes-winning Pilfer (Deputy Minister), To Honor and Serve has a yearling half-brother named Common Bond (Hard Spun) and a weanling half-brother by Street Sense. Pilfer herself is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner India (Hennessy).
This is the extended family of champion turf male Sunshine Forever (Roberto), champion turf female Ryafan (Lear Fan), Canadian champion Rahy's Attorney (Crown Attorney), Grade 1 winners Brian's Time (Roberto) and Memories of Silver (Silver Hawk), and noted sire Dynaformer (Roberto), among other luminaries.