Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott went into the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes with his eyes focused not on the last Saturday of February but on the first Saturday in May for Live Oak Plantation's To Honor and Serve.
“Don't try to do too much,” Mott told jockey John Velazquez before the race. “See how he feels and what we might need to work on.”
Joe Drape writes in the New York Times that Mott's old-school approach to training is in line with fellow Hall of Famers like H. Allen Jerkens or the late Charlie Whittingham, where winning isn't everything when it comes to prep races.
When Velazquez brought the Bernardini colt back to be unsaddled after his third-place finish to Soldat in the Fountain of Youth, many handicappers were ready to put a fork in the colt that ranked No. 2 on the Paulick Derby Index and nearly every other poll this winter. Not Mott or Velazquez, because they felt To Honor and Serve ran well and got exactly out of the race what he needed.
“I liked his race,” Velazquez told Mott.
“I did, too,” Mott said. “Now we got something to build on.”
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