04/28/2012 5:28PM

Belmont Park: To Honor and Serve gallops in comeback to win Westchester

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
To Honor and Serve, ridden by Jose Lezcano, wins the Westchester Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths.

Making 3-5 look like a bargain, To Honor and Serve inhaled pacesetter Bold Deed approaching the stretch and ran away from three outclassed rivals in Saturday’s scratch-riddled Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park.

In what resembled a public workout more than a graded stakes race, To Honor and Serve ($3.20) couldn’t have been more impressive in his 4-year-old debut if he tried – and he didn’t need to try too hard after Jersey Town, Marilyn’s Guy, and Ponzi Scheme all were withdrawn.

Bold Deed sprinted to a long early lead under Javier Castellano through ambitious fractions of 22.95 and 45.05 seconds. Meanwhile, Jose Lezcano allowed To Honor and Serve to settle into stride down the backstretch.

To Honor and Serve quickly gained on the turn, took over readily just before six furlongs in 1:09.79, and drew away to win the mile race by five and one-quarter lengths in 1:34.84 while eased up the last sixteenth of a mile.

“When I asked him – I didn’t even ask him – I let him do it himself,” said Lezcano. “At the quarter pole, he changed leads and he galloped. Very easy.”

Boys At Tosconova, making his first stakes appearance since the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finished second by five lengths over a fading Bold Deed. Goombada Guska was another five and one-half lengths back in the strung-out quartet.

To Honor and Serve, now a graded stakes winner at 2, 3 and 4, ran his record to 7-1-2 from 12 starts for trainer Bill Mott, who is aiming the Bernardini colt to the Met Mile on May 28.

“That would be a goal for anybody, I suppose, for any part of the season,” said Mott. ‘He’s matured, and that’s what I was hoping he would do from the time he was a 2-year-old. You could tell he might be one of those horses who was going to be better as he got older.”

Earlier on the card, Hard Mystery ($56.50) lived up to her name with a dominating score in the $90,000 Inside Information overnight stakes.

Last in the field of six 3-year-old fillies down the backstretch, Hard Mystery – easily the longest price on the toteboard – rallied to reach the front coming to the quarter pole and steadily drew away beneath Eddie Castro to win by five and three-quarter lengths over Lady Cohiba.

Hard Mystery ran one mile in 1:35.54 over a fast main track and improved to 4-2-0 from 8 starts for trainer George Weaver. Miss d’Oro, a second-time starter coming off a debut win at Penn National, outfinished 2-1 favorite Zucchini Flower for third.