09/02/2012 1:13PM

Saratoga: Owner prefers Breeders' Cup Classic to Dirt Mile for To Honor and Serve

Tom Keyser
Charlotte Weber said she prefers the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic to the $1 milliion Dirt Mile for her horse To Honor and Serve

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - While no final decision has been made, Charlotte Weber, the owner of Grade 1 Woodward Stakes winner To Honor and Serve, said Sunday morning she prefers the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic to the $1 million Dirt Mile for her multiple Grade 1-winning colt.

“In order of preference, obviously, the Classic comes first, but I wouldn’t be ashamed to win either,” Weber said Sunday morning, after stopping by trainer Bill Mott’s barn.

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 To Honor and Serve put himself back in the Breeders’ Cup picture with a hard-fought neck victory over Mucho Macho Man in Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward at Saratoga. After receiving a perfect trip under John Velazquez, To Honor and Serve repelled the stretch challenge of Mucho Macho Man to get the victory, his eighth from 15 career starts. It was one of the first instances in which To Honor and Serve got into a real stretch battle and prevailed.

“You always wonder and I think that’s an important quality to know that he’s got,” Mott said.

 To Honor and Serve ran in last year’s Classic and finished seventh, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by the Mott-trained Drosselmeyer. Mott is pointing two others to this year’s Classic, including Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron the Greek and 2011 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita.

 On Sunday, Flat Out worked four furlongs in 48.13 seconds over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for a defense of his Jockey Club Gold Cup title on Sept. 29. He got his final quarter in 23.69 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.16.

“How could you not like that?” Mott said.

 Mott said that if To Honor and Serve does run again before the Classic, a start in the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso, a one-turn mile at Belmont on Sept. 29, makes the most sense to him to use as a prep.

“I’m just rambling on here about possibilities. I’m not saying I’m committing, I’m just kind of thinking,” he said.

Kathy Ritvo, the trainer of Woodward runner-up Mucho Macho Man, said her horse would be pointed to the Classic, but she did not rule out a start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup beforehand.

 “It’s not definite that we don’t run anywhere else - we could - he came back great,” Ritvo said.

 Mucho Macho Man did not have the easiest of trips in the Woodward. He was bumped at the break by Gourmet Dinner, was pinned in along the rail for a good portion of the race by Stay Thirsty, and then got carried out by To Honor and Serve in deep stretch.

“He got carried out, but they didn’t make contact,” Ritvo said. “You have to do it. If it was my rider I’d want him to do it. My brothers were riders, [husband] Timmy was a rider, you have to ride like that. He still ran a very game race.”

 Cease, who finished third in the Woodward in his Grade 1 stakes debut, is likely to be pointed to the Hawthorne Gold Cup on Oct. 6, trainer Al Stall said immediately after the race.