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Sep 07, 2012

To Honor and Serve takes Woodward Stakes


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - To Honor and Serve, the 7-2 second pick, held off 4-5 favorite Mucho Macho Man down the stretch to win Saturday's $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Setting the pace in the 1 1/8-mile stakes was Rule followed closely by Trickmeister, To Honor and Serve and Mucho Macho Man. The top four runners kept their positions up the backstretch and into the far the turn.

Around the final turn Rule had a short lead with To Honor and Serve moving into second with Mucho Macho Man to his outside in third. Beginning to fall off the lead was Trickmeister.

Heading into the stretch To Honor and Serve, ridden by John Velazquez, had the lead as Mucho Macho Man and jockey Mike Smith began their rally. The favorite got to within a head of To Honor and Serve, but could never draw even or take the lead.

Trained by Bill Mott, To Honor and Serve held off the favorite and posted a neck victory.

"He put in a really good fight," said the winning jockey.

Getting up for third was Cease followed by Trickmeister, Stay Thirsty, Rule and Gourmet Dinner.

The time for the Woodward was 1:48.56 on a fast track.

Owned by Live Oak Plantation, the 4-year-old colt adds $450,000 to his earnings which now stand at $1,778,840. To Honor and Serve has won eight of 15 career starts.

In his previous start in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, To Honor and Serve was affected by the heat and finished fourth to Mucho Macho Man.

"They traded victories," Mott noted, "they've beaten each other throughout their careers, actually, from the time they were 2-year-old, 3-year-old now 4-year-old. The thing I thought today was it was our turn."

To Honor and Serve began his 2012 campaign with a 5 1/4 length win in the Westchester Handicap at Belmont Park, followed by a third to Shackleford in the Met Mile. Last year he posted wins in the Pennsylvania Derby and Cigar Mile.

This was the third Woodward victory for Velazquez. The Hall of Fame jockey won the stakes in 2010 with Quality Road and three years earlier aboard Lawyer Ron.

To Honor and Serve returned $9.30, $3.60 and $2.60, Mucho Macho Man paid $2.50 and $2.10 and Cease paid $2.90 to show.

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