11/27/2010 4:45PM

To Honor and Serve all the way in Remsen

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David Alcosser
To Honor and Serve, John Velazquez up, wins the Remsen.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Five minutes before the horses loaded into the starting gate for Saturday’s Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, trainer Bill Mott, standing in the Aqueduct paddock, took a deep breath and shrugged his shoulders.

“Cold or nervous?” someone asked.

“Both,” said Mott, the trainer of heavily favored To Honor and Serve.

About seven minutes later, after To Honor and Serve won the $200,000 Remsen, Mott could exhale with some relief, but now he has six months to deal with a case of Derby fever.

“I warmed right up,” Mott said.

While a little less dynamic than he was three weeks earlier in winning the Nashua Stakes by four lengths, To Honor and Serve still confirmed his status as a leading contender for next year’s Kentucky Derby with a front-running, two-length victory over Mucho Macho Man in the Remsen. It was three lengths back to Mountain Town in third. Bandbox and Buffum completed the order of finish.

“I thought the Nashua looked like he won a little easier, but this is another eighth of a mile,” Mott said. “Does it give him another eighth of a mile to wait on horses? Being a two-turn race maybe slightly confusing to him first time, but he won well enough. It was a good enough race. First time going a mile and an eighth, I don’t think it was anything to be disappointed about.”

Under John Velazquez, To Honor and Serve broke running and made the lead through an opening quarter in 24.35 seconds. Mucho Macho Man, who finished second behind To Honor and Serve in the Nashua, remained within a length of To Honor and Serve through a half-mile in 47.69 seconds and six furlongs 1:11.16. Turning into the stretch, To Honor and Serve opened up a little bit on Mucho Macho Man. Velazquez hit the horse once right-handed at the three-sixteenth pole, once at the eighth pole and twice more after that before going to a vigorous hand ride in the final sixteenth.

To Honor and Serve, a son of Bernardini owned by Live Oak Plantation, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.03 and returned $3.20 as the 3-5 favorite.

“I left him do whatever he wanted to do I didn’t want to be on his mouth,” Velazquez said. “I left him where he wanted to be, let him [get into a] cruising speed. He’s still a big baby. He goes to the lead and gets to waiting, ears up, looking around. It feels there’s more there. He still hasn’t put everything together yet.”

Mott said To Honor and Serve will ship to Florida and get a little time at Live Oak Stud before joining Mott’s Payson Park string in a few weeks.

Demoiselle: Dixie City cruises

Dixie City was allowed to get loose on the lead through easy fractions and cruised home a 3 1/4-length winner over Believe in A.P. in the Grade 2, $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes for juvenile fillies. It was 11 1/2 lengths back to Tap for Luck in third. She was followed in the order of finish by Full Moon Blues and Summer Laugh.

Breaking from the rail under Jose Lezcano, Dixie City got to the lead through a quarter in 24.20 seconds, a half-mile in 48.19 seconds, six furlongs in 1:12.82. Believe in A.P., under Ramon Dominguez tried to make a run at Dixie City approaching the quarter pole, but Dixie City had plenty left and galloped home a relatively easy winner.

Dixie City, a daughter of Dixie Union owned by Edward P. Evans and trained by Tony Dutrow, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.84 and returned $5.60

“They let her have her way,” Dutrow said. “She broke with run on her mind and things went really well.”