11/25/2010 2:57PM

To Honor and Serve taking next step up

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
To Honor and Serve, Jose Lezcano up, wins the Nashua.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – With a returning Breeders’ Cup winner in his care, Unbridled Belle, trainer Bill Mott already has something to look forward to as the calendar inches toward 2011. On Saturday, Mott hopes to learn if his prospects for the upcoming year include a leading Kentucky Derby hopeful as well.

To Honor and Serve will seek his third consecutive victory and can stamp himself a legitimate Derby contender when he runs in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The race will be the colt’s first around two turns and at 1 1/8 miles.

To Honor and Serve, a son of 2006 Preakness and Travers winner Bernardini, has shown great promise in his first three starts. After finishing a troubled second to subsequent stakes winner Astrology in his debut at Saratoga, To Honor and Serve won an off-the-turf maiden race by 8 3/4 lengths at Belmont and the Grade 2 Nashua, a one-turn mile race, by four lengths at Aqueduct. He seeks to become the eighth horse to pull off the Nashua/Remsen double. Five of the previous seven to do so won graded stakes at 3 including 1992 Preakness winner Pine Bluff and 2006 Kentucky Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat.

“Certainly not overconfident, but anxious to learn something new,” Mott said when asked about his mindset entering the Remsen. “The added distance, fresh competition, there’s always something to figure out. It’s always a learning experience.”

To Honor and Serve came from slightly off the pace in his maiden win, but led virtually gate to wire in his Nashua victory. Mott said jockey Jose Lezcano – who was subbing for regular rider John Velazquez – let the colt run his race in the Nashua.

“The rider did a good job letting him cruise at his own pace; that was his cruising speed,” Mott said. “I don’t want to take him out of his game just to see something different. We’ll let the race set up as it may and just take it from there. I don’t think tracking horses or following horses is going to be an issue.”

Velazquez, who is also the regular rider of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo, will be back aboard To Honor and Serve on Saturday.

Mountain Town will be making his first start since finishing second to Uncle Mo in the Champagne, a race in which he loomed a challenger to Uncle Mo on the middle of the turn before Uncle Mo sped away from the field in the stretch.

“You knew he was a threat at the three-eighths pole, he didn’t just pick up the pieces,” trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said. “He ran a big race, he just couldn’t catch the winner. He’s done nothing wrong in his career and he’s been training good. I’m under the impression he’s going to run his race.”

Buffum, who is also a son of Bernardini, exits a good-looking maiden win going a mile at Belmont. His trainer, Tom Albertrani, a former assistant to Mott, is anxious to see his horse step up in class and distance.

“If they’re talented enough they’ll find a way to do it,” Albertrani said. “This horse looks like he’s got a lot of talent.”

Bandbox, an undefeated New York-bred, Mucho Macho Man, the Remsen runner-up, Economic Summit, and Pants on Fire, complete the field.

Demoiselle appears wide open

Rick Dutrow hopes history will repeat itself when he runs Believe in A.P. in Saturday’s $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

In 2004, Dutrow won the Demoiselle with Sis City after that filly finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Lone Star Park. Believe in A.P. enters the Demoiselle off a fourth-place finish in the Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs three weeks ago, when she was ridden by Garrett Gomez.

“I’m not into the three weeks, but it looks like she’s got a good enough shot to win,” Dutrow said. “We were happy enough with her race in Churchill she got outrun by a couple of better fillies. Maybe if Gomez would have taken her around instead of inside she would have been third, but I can’t complain about anything.”

Summer Laugh, who is 2 for 2, including a victory in the Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware, looks like the horse to beat. She is coupled with Dixie City, who finished third in the Tempted. Both are owend by Edward P. Evans.

Full Moon Blues and Tap for Luck, the first-two finishers from the Tempted, as well as Light Your World, complete the field.