10/10/2012 3:26PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Solid trio gives Mott chance for a rare repeat

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Tom Keyser
Flat Out (left) will be heading into the Classic off a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

With the likes of Flat Out, Ron the Greek, and To Honor and Serve all pointing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, trainer Bill Mott will be attempting to win the Classic for the second straight year, having pulled off an upset last year with Drosselmeyer.

Only once, when Jay Robbins sent out Tiznow to victories in 2000 and 2001, has a trainer won the Classic in consecutive years. No trainer has ever won it in consecutive years with different horses.

Flat Out comes into the Classic off a repeat victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Ron the Greek was a disappointing sixth in the Gold Cup, but unlike Mott’s other two horses he already has raced in California – and with success, having captured the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

To Honor and Serve could be the longest shot of the three. He never has raced in California, has tried 1 1/4 miles – the Classic distance – just once, and is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Kelso going a mile on dirt. Although the Dirt Mile is the faint back-up plan for To Honor and Serve, Charlotte Weber, whose Live Oak Plantation owns To Honor and Serve, is desirous of running in the Classic, and Mott thinks he deserves the chance.

“He was only beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the Classic last year, and that was as a 3-year-old, and he was right with Flat Out and Havre de Grace,” Mott said in a telephone interview. “There’s no reason not to try as a 4-year-old.”

Mott said it is his understanding that the Classic is likely to be the final career start for To Honor and Serve, a son of Bernardini who is a Grade 1 winner of nearly $1.8 million.

“He’s a very sound, fresh horse,” Mott said.

Mott said all three of his Classic runners came out of their Sept. 29 preps at Belmont Park in good order. “We’ll start them on a breeze program this weekend,” he said. His Breeders’ Cup horses are not scheduled to travel to California until Oct. 29 so his Classic runners will have three works in New York.

◗ Fort Larned, third in the Gold Cup, worked a half-mile at Churchill Downs on Wednesday in 49.80 seconds. He will be flown to California on Oct. 30, trainer Ian Wilkes said.

◗ Mucho Macho Man also is slated to travel to California on Oct. 30, trainer Kathy Ritvo said. Mucho Macho Man is still at Saratoga, but Ritvo said she was considering moving him to Belmont Park later this week because the forecast was for drier weather downstate.

◗ Game On Dude, the likely Classic favorite, is scheduled to work this weekend at Santa Anita for the first time since his Awesome Again victory on Sept. 29, trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday.

◗ Dullahan is scheduled to fly to California on Monday. His adaptation to the Santa Anita dirt will determine whether he goes in the Classic. “It’ll be a game-time decision,” trainer Dale Romans said.