Coming in to 2011, To Honor and Serve was a horse at the top of his game. He was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as a juvenile after winning both the Nashua and Remsen Grade 2 Stakes at Aqueduct. His trainer, Bill Mott, had his eyes on the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs with his promising colt. But then things didn’t go so well.
The colt finished third in the Fountain of Youth but Mott said he wasn’t concerned…it was just a prep race for him to see what he could do. Then the Florida Derby turned into another prep race after To Honor and Serve again trotted in third. The young horse had still earned enough graded-stakes money to qualify for a Kentucky Derby spot…but then that didn’t go so well either. The colt had strained a ligament in his left leg in his Florida Derby run and would miss the “greatest two minutes in sports.”
However, Mott took his time with the maturing horse and spent four months nursing him back to racing form. It looks like all the time and hard work has paid off. To Honor and Serve romped to an 8 1/4-length win in an allowance race at Saratoga in late August. This past Saturday he solidified his comeback with a 2 1/4-lengths victory in another derby…the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
After taking the lead halfway through the final turn, jockey Jose Lezcano steadied the horse to a comfortable victory by holding off a late run by Ruler on Ice. Oh…and the 1:47.34 time was a new stakes record and nearly broke a 38-year-old track record. It seems that this horse may be back at the top of his game once again.
With this latest victory, Mott and company will likely return to Churchill Downs, this time for the prestigious Breeder’s Cup in November. Should To Honor and Serve race strong and stay on track, perhaps he will position himself as a top four-year old going into 2012.