04/29/2012 1:12PM

Thoughts on To Honor and Serve, Endorsement

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It’s difficult getting a word in about anything other than the Kentucky Derby right now, especially with the big day less than a week away. But To Honor and Serve’s victory in the Westchester at Belmont and Endorsement’s win in the Texas Mile at Lone Star were performances Saturday that shouldn’t be allowed to fall through the cracks.

To Honor and Serve’s score was expected considering he was 3-5 in an abbreviated Westchester field of only four after three were scratched off the program. Nevertheless, this was the first time after three previous unsuccessful attempts that To Honor and Serve won fresh, which might be a strong signal that the 4-year-old version of this colt is even better than the high class version we saw before. And To Honor and Serve didn’t merely win, he scored with complete authority while being well in hand through the final furlong.

The Westchester sets To Honor and Serve up perfectly for next month’s Met Mile, which has been his early-season target since he won the Cigar Mile last Thanksgiving weekend. But it will be interesting to see what path To Honor and Serve’s campaign takes after the Met Mile.

Although he won the Remsen at 2 and the Pennsylvania Derby last fall going nine furlongs, there might be some question about To Honor and Serve’s suitability to a mile and a quarter, which means that maybe the Breeders’ Cup Classic might not be the best year-end fit for him (he finished a tired seventh in last year’s Classic). Of course, that doesn’t preclude To Honor and Serve from targeting such nine furlong races at Saratoga as the Whitney and Woodward because they are certainly races well worth winning on their own. And big efforts in events like that could easily change the perception of his distance capabilities. But if the thinking is that To Honor and Serve might be a better match for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile than the Classic, then no one should be surprised if his summer and early fall campaign takes on a more unconventional look. Either way, this is a very good horse.

The Texas Mile was Endorsement’s second career stakes victory, and it was one that was a long time coming. Two years ago, Endorsement was so impressive winning the Sunland Derby in fast time off only a maiden win that he was a popular wise guy pick for that year’s Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, Endorsement never got a chance to show if all that support was justified. He was sidelined before that Derby by a fracture and was away 21 months before he returned late last year at Gulfstream, where he turned in three good efforts before his return to the stakes ranks Saturday.

Endorsement was solid on Saturday as he won going away from the sharp Southern California shipper Canonize, and you would have to think that with the rust just now coming off after such a long period of inactivity, Endorsement has another forward move in him. In any case, Endorsement’s connections have already said that their horse will target one of the big Saratoga races, so one thing he must do now is maintain health. That’s always a concern, but it might be more so in this instance. After all, Endorsement does have a 21 month gap in his record, he was off almost three months before the Texas Mile (that clearly didn’t matter), and indications are he will pretty much lie low until the big summer action.

Scott More than 1 year ago
Mike, To Honor and Serve was my very early pick (right after I heard he'd run at 4) to win this year's BCC. I actually had forgotten about Mucho Macho Man, but I still like the way THAS might fit at Santa Anita that time of year. Last year's race was all wrong for him right out of the gate (literally, because he was all the way outside). He had to rush up to get his stalking position and got too close to the speed on a tiring track. Besides, I will always take a good 4 or 5 year old over a good 3 year old and low and behold which front runner out fo the group was still there: Game On Dude. Still, the talent and breeding are there and with a more speed favoring track, a better post position, and another year under his belt, THAS could definitely be a threat. Like you though, I'll have to wait and see where they go after the Met Mile.
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
Yeah Mike, "This is a very good horse" true class wherever and whenever he goes any way we look at him....
James P More than 1 year ago
To Honor And Serve is a fast horse but he will never win a dog fight. He's rather gutless, methinks.
Rosie More than 1 year ago
the endorsement "lay-up" is the trainers M.O. i am sure he'll prep before august! let's not forget ENDORSEMENT's original trainer Shannon Ritter-who did a awesome job getting the horse to the derby- that was the lock of this decade that never happened- she deserve's a lot of credit for getting the foundation under ENDORSEMENT..so let's not forget her when this runner shows everybody how good he is
D More than 1 year ago
He is a chalk players horse will always be favored and only wins when he has perfect trips.... well at least so far in his career this is true. Maybe he will be the top handicap horse in the country but I serious doubt it. I mean I don't have anything against the horse he is a nice horse no doubt but to act like he has really done something cause of his Grade 3 win over 3 over rivals is a little premature I would say. He is suppose to beat those horses... He has to prove it on the track before he gets my wagers on the win end in a big time race which in the past he fails to show up for....
Darrell Gross More than 1 year ago
Great job! Too bad ALL the other "horse racing publications" totally ignored TO HONOR AND SERVE. IMO He's one of the very top older horses in his division. Bar none!
avlamal More than 1 year ago
im surprised u didnt assasinate to honor and serves performance because he had a good trip like that clown andy serling did today good trips are had because of smooth acceleration and handiness i cant see why shallow thinking handicappers cant seem to intellectualize this very simple concept this horse is a very good horse and will get a mile and a quarter on the front end
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to Endorsements race. He was one of my fav's before he was hurt. Looks like he can be a good one.
D More than 1 year ago
Last year Wise Dan's performance at Churchill Downs was by far the best performance we saw at a 1 1/8 or longer all year and it did not get the credit it deserves. Not many horses can run 1:48 at Churchill Downs in the Fall. That is a monster time on a track that gets very slow that time of year. He backed it up showing it at Keeneland as well just a couple weeks back. Until I see different there are 3 horses better then To Honor and Serve in the older horse division. Wise Dan, Mucho Macho Man, and Alternation.
D More than 1 year ago
After I see To Honer And Serve in a true dog fight and shows he has the class and heart then and only then will I consider him to be a top older horse. He never and I repeat never has won a race where he wasn't by far the best horse in the field and his odds showed it by being less then even money on the board. Look at his wins and look at the horses he faces in those wins, not the best and not even close if you ask me.