To Honor and Serve will cut back to 6 1/2 furlongs for the Amsterdam, the shortest test of his career. A leading juvenile of 2010 after Nashua and Remsen (both gr. II) wins at Aqueduct, the son of Bernardini finished a non-threatening third in two starts this year before being sidelined with a strained suspensory ligament in April.
He has been on a steady work pattern at Belmont for Bill Mott this summer, including a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 3/5 July 24.
“I was looking for a spot to get started, and I couldn’t think of anything better,” said Mott. “I didn’t think he was ready for the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy or Curlin. I decided we’d try the sprint to get a race in him and go from there. We’re not making a decision on where we’re going until after the race. For a big horse, he has a little bit of speed. You don’t think of him as a sprinter, but I’m trying to learn something myself.”
To Honor and Serve will face six formidable challengers in the Amsterdam, including 3-1 morning-line favorite and Woody Stephens (gr. II) winner Justin Phillip, the third- and fourth-place finishers from that race, Arch Traveler and Travelin Man, and impressive allowance winners Wine Police and Redeemed.
To Honor and Serve made his racing debut at Saratoga last summer, finishing second in a seven-furlong maiden special weight. He decisively broke his maiden going 1 1/16 miles in his next start and has raced at one mile or more ever since. The bay colt finished a distant third in both the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Florida Derby (gr. I) earlier this year before Mott discovered the injury.
A $575,000 purchase at the Keeneland September 2009 yearling sale, To Honor and Serve was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm, Larry Byer, and Rancho San Miguel. He is out of the Deputy Minister mare Pilfer.
Pegged as the 4-1 co-third choice, To Honor and Serve is 3-1-2 from six lifetime starts with earnings of $404,640. Javier Castellano will be in the irons.
Mott won the event in 2002 with Listen Here.
Zayat Stables’ Justin Phillip garnered his much-deserved first stakes win in the Woody Stephens after being graded stakes placed in his previous two starts. He rolled by 3 1/4 lengths in the June 11 Woody Stephens, a seven-furlong test at Belmont. This will be the seventh start of the season for the First Samurai colt, who will seek his third victory for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Asmussen, a two-time winner of the event, will also send out J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Wine Police. The highly-touted son of Speightstown romped by more than seven lengths in his debut at Saratoga last summer and was third in the Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. I) before being injured. He returned to action June 24 at Churchill after a nine-month layoff by winning a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths.
“He’s had three solid races, he likes Saratoga, so we have that going for him,” said Asmussen of Wine Police. “He’s done well since his race at Churchill. There are a lot of reasons why he should run well.”
Centennial Farms’ Arch Traveler seeks his fourth win of the season in his seveth start. He has won at sprint distances twice, including the Ziggy’s Boy overnight stakes in May at Belmont, and also tallied a 1 1/8-mile allowance score at Gulfstream this winter. The bay colt, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, was beaten 3 1/4 lengths as the favorite in the Woody Stephens.
Travelin Man was fourth in the Woody Stephens, one start after a disappointing sixth-place finish in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. The Trippi colt notched his lone stakes win in the Swale (gr. II) in April for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won the Amsterdam the last two years with Quality Road and Discreetly Mine.
“I don’t think he liked the surface at Churchill,” said Pletcher. “I thought he trained well in the slop at Churchill, but he didn’t seem to like it at Belmont.”
Redeemed, a winner of three consecutive races including a dominating optional claiming performance July 4 at Belmont, and Ohio Derby (gr. III) winner Caleb's Posse complete the lineup.
$150,000 Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:56 p.m.), 3YO, 6 1/2 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Arch Traveler (KY), J Lezcano, 119 ,J A Jerkens
2. Redeemed (VA), E S Prado, 117, R E Dutrow Jr.
3. Wine Police (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, S M Asmussen
4. Caleb's Posse (KY), R Maragh, 123, D K Von Hemel
5. To Honor and Serve (KY), J Castellano, 121, W I Mott
6. Travelin Man (KY), J R Velazquez, 123, T A Pletcher
7. Justin Phillip (KY), R A Dominguez, 123, S M Asmussen