Heavily favored To Honor and Serve cruised to a front-running four-length victory over Mucho Macho Man in the $150,000 Nashua Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO), one of a trio of graded stakes Nov. 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, the 2-year-old bay son of Bernardini quickly took command and ran easily through uncontested early fractions of 24.01, 48.27 and 1:12.10. Shaking off bids from Much Macho Man and Quality Council at the top of the stretch, To Honor and Serve spurted clear approaching the eighth pole and then loped home in 1:35.86 for the mile.
“He just galloped into the lead, and when I asked him, he just, like, galloped,” said Lezcano. “I don’t know how to explain it. He won so easily.”
It was the second straight victory for To Honor and Serve, an 8 ¾-length winner of an off-the-turf maiden race at Belmont Park Oct. 2. A $575,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland yearling sales in 2009, To Honor and Serve earned $90,000 for his owner, Live Oak Plantation. Second in his first start at Saratoga, the colt has now won $144,640.
Sent off at 3-10, To Honor and Serve returned $2.70 for a $2 win bet.
“He’s still a baby, so we’ll take it step-by-step,” said Rodolphe Brisset, assistant to winning Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “He’s a quick learner, that’s for sure.”
Elsewhere on the card, favored Grassy scored his first graded stakes win in the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) , charging widest of all down the stretch to edge Rescue Squad by a length in the 1 3/8-mile turf race.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, the 4-year-old son of El Prado tucked in along the rail well behind Strike a Deal, who led through a half-mile in 51.52 and a mile in 1:43.37 over the soft course. Rounding the turn, Bravo tipped Grassy to the outside and the gray colt responded with a rousing late run that carried him under the wire in 2:20.06 as the 13-10 choice in the field of seven.
“The minute the gates opened, he gave me this sensation like ‘Yo jock, don’t worry about it. I got this,’” said Bravo. “He gave me the sensation that at any time he could’ve gone and run ‘em over.”
The victory was the second in six start this year for Grassy, who in his previous race finished third, beaten 1 ½ lengths, by Winchester in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) over a yielding course at Belmont Park.
“Off his race in the Turf Classic, we thought this was a good spot for him,” said Ben Colebrook, assistant to winning trainer Christophe Clement. “He put in a big effort that day. Today, he was even more impressive.”
Owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, Grassy returned $4.70 for a $2 win bet and earned $90,000.
In the $100,000 Tempted for 2-year-old fillies, Full Moon Blues was never challenged as she led almost every step under jockey Malcolm Franklin on the way to a 2 ¼-length win over Tap for Luck (VIDEO).
Her time for the mile was 1:38.56, faster than To Honor and Serve ran two races later on the program.
“She didn’t break all that well, but no one else seemed anxious for the lead, and Malcolm was able to cruise on up there and dictate the pace,” said Tim Tullock Jr., who trains Full Moon Blues for Jeffrey Nielsen.
Sent off as the 11-1 longshot in the field of five, Full Moon Blues returned $25 for a $2 win bet as she ran her record to 2-2-0 from four starts.