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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

To Honor or To Serve? Question Looms in FOY

2/23/2011

Will the highly-regarded To Honor and Serve come out running or will he be subservient in his first start of the year? The colt makes his 3-year-old debut as the solid favorite in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes with John Velazquez aboard for trainer Bill Mott.

They teamed up to win the Grade II Remsen Stakes at the same distance at Aqueduct by two lengths last out on Nov. 27. It was a performance that stamped To Honor and Serve as at least second best of his crop behind Uncle Mo.

To Honor and Serve, a son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini, was purchased for $575,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and has won his last three starts impressively following a runner-up debut at Saratoga on Sept. 24. He won the one-mile, Grade II Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct by four lengths three weeks before the Remsen.

To Honor and Serve faces seven rivals in the Fountain of Youth, a race with a long history of producing Triple Crown race contenders. The most formidable threats to the favorite appear to be Soldat, with Alan Garcia aboard, and Gourmet Dinner, to be ridden for the first time by Ramon Dominguez.

Soldat, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, made his reputation last season on turf winning the Grade III With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga and finishing second in the Grade III Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park. He was second by a length in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

A $180,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase by War Front, Soldat was given his chance to jump on the Derby trail in a nine-furlong ‘a other than’ allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 21. He splashed home on a sloppy track a 10 3/4-length winner.

Soldat did well finishing second in two main track sprints at Belmont and Saratoga to begin his career, but both were on off tracks. He would try fast dirt for the first time in the Fountain of Youth.

Gourmet Dinner finished a good third behind Dialed In in the one-mile, one-turn, Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at the track on Jan. 30 for trainer Steve Standridge. The race marked his first start since a troubled fourth-place try in the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in mid-December.

A son of Montbrook, Gourmet Dinner was co-bred by Our Sugar Bear owner Bill Terrill and won three of four starts at Calder to begin his career before capturing the Grade III Delta Jackpot by 2 1/2 lengths prior to the trip to California. Dominguez gets aboard for the first time, replacing regular rider Sebastian Madrid, who'd been aboard for all seven starts.


Edited from track release with additional content by Dick Downey

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