Saratoga notes: To Honor and Serve gets back on track

The main track at Saratoga Race Course was playing faster than it had all meet, and To Honor and Ser

The main track at Saratoga Race Course was playing faster than it had all meet, and To Honor and Serve took full advantage.

He was running his second race since a suspensory ligament injury knocked him from the Triple Crown trail, having finished sixth here in the Grade II Amsterdam on Aug. 1. He needed a good race, and ran the fastest mile and an eighth at the meet to date in 1:48.31 to win the eighth race Friday.

“Unexpectedly, a horse went to the lead in front of him,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. “We didn’t see that coming on paper, but it was nice to see that he relaxed right off that horse’s hip. He didn’t try to run off. Very good. Very much more mature horse than he was four or five months ago.”

Regal Warrior went to the early lead under apprentice jockey Ryan Curatolo, and To Honor and Serve settled just off his pace until they entered the final turn. He entered the stretch with a growing lead, hitting the wire 81⁄4 lengths ahead of Slevin. Gautier was third, and

Afleet Again was fourth. Afleet Again was fourth in last year’s Travers.

At one point, this year’s Travers was a hopeful spot for To Honor and Serve, but that hope disappeared with his injury and lackluster first race back in the Amsterdam.

“We needed to see this before he stepped up,” said Mott, who will saddle Raison d’Etat in today’s Travers. “We were coming off races that probably weren’t good enough to go into a race like the Travers. At one point, we thought he was a Travers horse, and just the timing of it didn’t work out. Hopefully, we’re loaded well enough to compete good in the Travers tomorrow. But it was really good to see this horse back on track.”

Back in sixth place in the seven-horse field was Equestrio, who had beaten eventual Florida Derby winner and stablemate Dialed In in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on March 6.

Mott said he was unsure where his next spot for To Honor and Serve will be, but he is glad to see the horse rounding back into the competitor he always thought he would become.

“I think he will, and I don’t know that it has to be this year,” Mott said. “Looking down the road, I think he’s the kind of horse we thought would get better all along, and he’ll probably be better next year. I’d like to have a good horse for next year, and he might be the one. There’s some races this fall, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.”


Caixa Eletronica, a 7-year-old gelding still winning races for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole, won his second race of the meet in three tries, holding off Lucas Brady at the wire in the third race.

The Pletcher workhorse was sixth in the seven-furlong James Marvin on opening day and won a six-furlong starter handicap on Aug. 15. He won another starter handicap Friday, this one at 11⁄8 miles, by a nose over Lucas Brady. Caixa Eletronica had to duel with Seniors Pride at the top of the stretch with Lucas Brady gaining on the pair. As Seniors Pride faded, Lucas Brady took up the struggle against Caixa Eletronica and was edged in the final jump.

The crowd groaned at the video replay, as the 4-5 favorite once again prevailed over a 14-1 shot.


What looked like a rematch of Ibboyee and Be Bullish, the top two finishers in the John Morrissey on Aug. 3, was crashed by Driven by Success in the fourth race.

In the John Morrissey, the Pletcher-trained Ibboyee beat the Repole-owned Be Bullish by a neck. But Ibboyee was never a factor Friday, running last in the five-horse field most of the way and swinging into the top of the stretch very wide. Be Bullish, meanwhile, stayed within two lengths of Driven by Success, who went wire-to-wire on the lead. The two were a coupled entry owned by Repole.

Be Bullish finished second to his entry-mate by 11⁄4 lengths. Smokin Hero brushed with Six Flings at the start, but ran second until the stretch, when he dropped back to third.


A decision will be made today regarding the running of Sunday’s card. Hurricane Irene may decide to pay a visit to the region at trop­ical-storm force.

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