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Dec 02, 2011

To Honor and Serve captures Cigar Mile


Ozone Park, NY (Sports Network) - Even-money favorite To Honor and Serve took control down the stretch Saturday to win the $250,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. The three-year-old colt stopped the timer at 1:33.89 on a fast track.

Trained by Bill Mott, To Honor and Serve went off as the heavy choice in the six-horse field under jockey Jose Lezcano. The colt broke sharply and pressed the pacesetter Calibrachoa.

Coming off the final turn the favorite, racing to the outside of the leader, drew even with Calibrachoa. To and Honor Serve gained the lead in the final furlong as Calibrachoa began to tire.

Lezcano urged his mount down the stretch to post a 1 3/4-length victory over the late running Hymn Book. Calibrachoa, trained by Todd Pletcher, held on for third followed by Haynesfield, Pletcher's other starter Caixa Eletronica and Sangaree. Supplemental entry Pretty Boy Freud was scratched.

"I had plenty of horse turning for home, I tapped him on the shoulder, and he changed leads and took off," said Lezcano. "I'm very happy with the way he finished."

Owned by Live Oak Plantation, To Honor and Serve notched his third victory at Aqueduct in as many attempts. As a two-year-old he won the Nashua and Remsen Stakes at the Queens oval.

The three-year-old gains $150,000 with the win. In 11 career starts he has six wins for $1,146,340.

"I thought he was professional before this race, but this certainly puts the right markings on his calendar," said his owner, Live Oak's Charlotte Weber. "He's going to go home to Live Oak (in Florida) and rest for a little bit. After his rest he will go back to Billy (Mott) and we will figure out his campaign for next year. I can't see any reason not to race him next year. (Having fun) is what this game is all about."

To Honor and Serve was coming off a seventh-place finish in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic behind Drosselmeyer three weeks ago at Churchill Downs. Prior to the Classic the colt won the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on September 24 after taking an allowance race a month earlier at Saratoga. He was third in both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby early this year before being given time off.

"What started out as a very slow year has ended up good," said Mott who trained two-time Horse of the Year Cigar. "This is probably one of the last stakes we'll run in for the year and it's a great way to top it off. Had we won the Classic, maybe we wouldn't have come here, but I looked at it and hung around Churchill for a couple of days and watched him and he looked like he came out of it good. He's been really eating up good and it didn't look like we hurt his feelings too much in the Classic."

To Honor and Serve returned $4.10, $3.00 and $2.10. Hymn Book paid $7.60 and $3.20, and Calibrachoa paid $2.10 to show.

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