10/23/2011 2:25PM

Clocker's Report: To Honor and Serve, Flat Out show differing styles

Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out appears to be thriving at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The King and the Queen of Breeders’ Cup ’11, Uncle Mo and Havre de Grace, have yet to arrive at Churchill Downs. But two of their potential rivals in this year’s Classic, To Honor and Serve and Flat Out, continued to show a fondness for the local strip when turning in two distinctly different types of  trials on a clear, crisp, and cold Sunday morning in Louisville.

The Churchill Downs racetrack was fast, but appeared a little deeper and slightly more demanding than it was in the weeks leading up to this year’s Kentucky Derby.   

Both To Honor and Serve and Flat Out began their activity under the lights before the break of dawn and at the same place, the five-furlong pole. But that is where the similarity in their morning’s work ended.

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To Honor and Serve was the first of the pair to go. After jogging about seven furlongs, accompanied by trainer Bill Mott astride his stable pony, to warm up, the Pennsylvania Derby winner broke away from the five-eighths marker at a relaxed pace. To Honor and Serve completed his opening furlong in an easy 13.40 seconds before picking up the pace entering the turn, posting splits of 25.48 for the quarter, 37.80 for three-eighths and 49.68 for a half before completing five furlongs in 1:02.12 and galloping out six panels in 1:15.43 with little or no encouragement throughout. 

The work wasn’t overly spectacular, but it was perfect as far as Mott was concerned.

“It was a good, steady time and very satisfactory considering the racetrack, which is still holding a lot of moisture from last week’s rain,” said Mott. “I wanted him to finish up and gallop out well and that’s exactly what he did.”

To Honor and Serve is by nature an aggressive 3-year-old, which is why Mott took him with the pony during his pre-work warm up.

“He’s been a lot different, a lot more professional and a lot less anxious as he’s matured during the course of the year,” said Mott. “But he’s gotten a little stronger since he’s been back to the races - he can be a little aggressive and revved up. I took him with the pony so he didn’t do too much during the warm up.”

Flat Out: Powerful gallop makes work tab

Trainer Charles “Scooter” Dickey planned to have Flat Out open gallop a mile, starting and ending at the five-furlong pole, in what was supposed to be only a little faster than a two-mile clip. What he got was a strong, controlled mile in 1:43.81 that was fast enough to make the official work tab. An extremely impressive “gallop” that ended with a final quarter in 25.37 and a last eighth under mild urging in 12.28.

“We were just giving him a real strong gallop to pump some air in his lungs,” Dickey said afterwards. “It just shows you how much he likes to train. I asked my rider to let him stretch out the last eighth of a mile and he really did. This is the normal routine for him and he certainly likes it here at Churchill, yes he does.  I’m not worried about the track. 

“I’ll probably give him another work, not a long work like today, but a half-mile sometime next weekend. We’ll watch the weather, see how he trains and then decide when.”

Royal Delta: Easy work, strong gallop-out

Arguably the best move turned in by a Breeders’ Cup contender here Sunday came from Mott’s Royal Delta, who cruised through an easy five furlongs in 1:02.48 then galloped out a very solid six furlongs in 1:15.02 and double galloped out seven-eighths in 1:29.79. Royal Delta, among the favorites for the Ladies’ Classic, broke off at nearly a two-minute clip herself, covering the opening furlong in a dawdling 13.98 before finishing her last half in 48.50 while shading 24 for the final quarter with her rider nearly motionless throughout.

“She went well and especially finished up well,” Mott said. “We worked both our horses under the lights last week and this morning because they’ll be running under the lights in their Breeders’ Cup races, although they only have about a third of them on right now and there were still quite a few shadows out on the track.”

Aikenite, Mission Impazible work in company

The only potential Breeders’ Cup candidate to work after the renovation break was Aikenite, who is listed as a possible starter for both the Sprint and Dirt Mile. Aikenite breezed in company with stablemate Mission Impazible, hitting the wire a length behind his partner while under slightly more pressure to finish.

Mission Impazible, who was kept several lengths off the rail,  completed four furlongs in 48.30 and galloped out five-eighths in a sharp 1:01.39, while Aikenite went a half in 48.56 and did not gallop out particularly well, pulling up five panels four lengths behind his mate in 1:02.17.

Mission Impazible, runner-up in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster here last spring, is currently being pointed for the Grade 3 Ack Ack on Nov. 4, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.