11/27/2011 2:55PM

Aqueduct: To Honor and Serve being pointed to ambitious 2012


The winners of all four of Saturday’s graded stakes races at Aqueduct will soon be headed to south Florida with their connections hopeful of targeting major races for them in 2012.

To Honor and Serve, the 1 3/4-length winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, is expected to leave New York on Wednesday and get a little vacation at owner Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud in Ocala before joining trainer Bill Mott’s string at Payson Park sometime in January.

Mott said the first major objective of 2012 for To Honor and Serve would likely be the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, traditionally run on Memorial Day, which next year is May 28. Mott said a possible 4-year-old debut could come in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap, a one-turn mile race on March 10.

"That would be a possibility," Mott said Sunday morning by phone from Saratoga. "It’s a little sooner than maybe we’d be looking at, we’ll see. We gave him a break last year and we were a little bit rushed to have him ready by that time."

After two disappointing races at Gulfstream to begin his 3-year-old season, To Honor and Serve missed the Triple Crown series with a suspensory ligament issue. He won 3 of 4 starts in the second half of the year, including the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby.

Mott said that in addition to the Met Mile, he would like to run To Honor and Serve in some of next year’s other major handicap races such as the Stephen Foster at Churchill and the Whitney or Woodward at Saratoga. The year-end objective would be the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.

"We hope he continues to keep improving and be as strong next year as he finished up this year," Mott said. "If we can manage that, we’ll be in good order."

Mott said To Honor and Serve came out of the Cigar Mile in good shape. He ran a mile in 1:33.89 and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106 in defeating Hymn Book, who is also headed to Florida and a 2012 campaign.

Trainer Chad Brown said Awesome Feather, the 5 1/4 length-winner of the Grade 1 Gazelle, came out of her race "perfect."If she remains that way, she will likely ship to the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida on Thursday and be pointed to the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream on Jan. 28. The Sunshine Millions Distaff is a 1 1/8-mile race restricted to Florida-breds.

"If everything looks good with her, if she’s 100 percent, then that would be where I’d want to be," Brown said.

Awesome Feather ran her career record to 8 for 8 with her victory in the Gazelle. She was quite impressive considering this was just her second race this year, and second since recovering from a bowed tendon, which in many cases can be a career-ending injury.

"You have to have the horse to do it," said Brown, who trains Awesome Feather for Frank Stronach. "What we have is a really good horse on our hands; very cooperative. Everything we’ve asked her to do rehabbing her and bringing her back she’s been excellent. She’s a special horse with a lot of heart. She’s extremely talented, we took our time with her, and right now it’s paying off."

Awesome Feather earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for the performance.

O’Prado Again, a three-quarter-length winner of the Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen Stakes over Souper Speedy, will be vanned to Gulfstream Park later this week to begin preparations for his 3-year-old season, which trainer Dale Romans hopes includes a start in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5.

O’Prado Again could get his 3-year-old campaign started in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on Feb. 26.

Romans has participated in the Kentucky Derby the previous two years, finishing third in 2010 with Paddy O’Prado and fourth last year with Shackleford, who came back to win the Preakness.

O’Prado Again, a son of El Prado, has won two consecutive races at 1 1/8 miles and showed Saturday that he can handle dirt after having run his better races on turf and synthetic.

"The light finally came on his last two races," Romans said. "And the way he trained for the last race you can tell he’s a different horse. He’s starting to peak. Hopefully, we can keep him around for the Triple Crown."

Romans said that he would consider shipping O’Prado Again back to New York for the Wood Memorial, scheduled for Aqueduct’s main track on April 7.

Disposablepleasure overcame a terrible stumble coming out of the starting gate to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes, and came out of the race with a grabbed quarter on the outside of her right front foot, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday.

Pletcher said the issue is not significant, especially since she would be getting some time off before her next start. Pletcher said Disposablepleasure would be shipped to Palm Meadows on Tuesday and be pointed to the distance races for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park which could include the Davona Dale on Feb. 26 and the Gulfstream Oaks on March 31. The ultimate objective for Disposablepleaure is the Kentucky Oaks on May 4.

Disposablepelasure earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 73 for her Demoiselle victory