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B Cup Classic: To Honor and Serve in focus

by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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To Honor and Serve produced his career best two starts back when he was a narrow, yet quite comfortable, winner of the 9-furlong Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. He repelled a challenge from the favorite Mucho Macho Man to win by a neck. To Honor and Serve, who won last year's Cigar Mile (G1) after having finished seventh in the BC Classic, had finished more than seven lengths behind Mucho Macho Man when they ran first and fourth in the Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park in July. His win in the Woodward was quite a turnaround in form, but there should be doubt about To Honor and Serve's talent. He is a high class performer and capable of beating the best when conditions are right. The key to this horse is not just the distance (there must be some doubt about him staying 1 ¼ miles). Just as important is the weather, as he does not perform at all when it is too hot. As trainer Bill Mott put it; “If we get to Santa Anita and it is in the 80's he will be fine. If it is 100 we are in trouble”.

A son of Bernardini, To Honor and Serve has raced mainly over a mile and nine furlongs, and he has never raced in California, so there are question marks attached to this contender. On the other hand, if he is to be effective over the Classic distance then Santa Anita is probably the place for it, as 1 ¼ miles is less testing here than at Churchill Downs. He dropped back to a mile for his final prep run, taking in the Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park in September, and came home in fourth a long way behind the winner, Jersey Town. Forget that run. To Honor and Serve was never put in the contest with a chance and he was given an easy race. Losing the prep and winning the big one has been done so many times over the years. It would come as no surprise to see this four-year-old do just that. Provided Breeders' Cup weekend is cool is cool in Arcadia. English bookmakers have him at 25-1, which is way too big a price.

Last update: 2012-10-30 09:34:50 (First published: 2012-10-28 06:12:51 )

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