Honor Up charges home to capture Say Florida Sandy Stakes

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

By Sarah Mace

Trainer Michelle Nevin, who won last year’s inaugural $100,000 Say Florida Sandy Stakes for older New York-breds with My Boy Tate, enjoyed a repeat trip to the winner’s circle Saturday after the second running of the race courtesy of Honor Up. Owned by Saratoga Seven Racing Partners LLC, the 4-year-old colt by To Honor and Serve captured his first career stakes victory with an energetic stretch rally under Manny Franco.

Honor Up began his career in the barn of Bill Mott, for whom he broke his maiden at fifth asking at Aqueduct on December 9, 2017, and collected a first-level state-bred allowance score routing on grass this past July 11 at Belmont.

Moving his tack to Nevin’s barn after the 2018 Saratoga meet, Honor Up returned to longer dirt sprints and produced three sharp efforts to close out the year. He won a 7-furlong second level state-bred allowance race over “good” going on October 12, and finished second and first, respectively, in a pair of open allowance races, at seven and 6 1/2 furlongs in November and December.

Honor Up came into the Say Florida Sandy armed with a best-of-ten bullet work at a half-mile on January 4, drawn advantageously to the outside and ready to take things to the next level as the 5-2 second choice in the betting. Seven formidable rivals awaited, however, led by five-time stakes winner Gold For the King, the even-money favorite. Also projected to be in the mix was a resurgent Syndergaard (6-1), who flashed great talent as a juvenile for Todd Pletcher and, on December 15, found his way back to the winner’s circle following a win-drought dating back to 2016 for John Terranova.

For the first half-mile, Honor Up was content to save ground near the back of the field with only the late-running Celtic Chaos beaten. Meanwhile 17-1 Royal Asset and 30-1 longshot Jewel Can Disco took on pacesetting duties, trading off the lead as Syndergaard pursued in third. The early fractions, as anticipated, were sharp: 22.75 and 46.13.

Coming off the fence to navigate the far turn three-to-four paths wide, Honor Up worked his way up into fifth, while Royal Asset and Syndergaard now battled for the lead on even terms.

NYRA/Viola Jasko

At the head of the lane and widest of all, Honor Up still had work to do with four contenders to his inside to pass: Syndergaard, who poked his head in front of Royal Asset at the rail at the three-sixteenths marker, Morning Breeze three-wide and Gold For the King looking for running room behind them in fourth.

Syndergaard kicked clear by a length, but Honor Up was moving best of all on the grandstand side. After passing the first three, he collared a game Syndergaard in the final sixteenth to get victory by a neck. Gold for the King, clear at last, got up for third at the fence 1 3/4 lengths back. Completing the order of finish were Morning Breez, Celtic Chaos, Royal Asset, Winston’s Chance and Jewel Can Disco.

After six panels in 1:11.03, Honor Up completed the seven furlongs over Aqueduct’s fast main track in 1:23.56. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Winning jockey Manny Franco described a picture-perfect trip aboard a mount he has come to know in the mornings. “He’s a nice horse,” said Franco. “I’ve been working him in the mornings, and I liked how he’s been coming along. I just followed the instructions. Michelle [Nevin] told me to break well and settle from our outside post to see how the race developed. I dropped him to the inside and waited as long as I could. When we got clear and I asked him, he was there for me. I knew I was going to get there in the end because in the beginning of the race, he was so relaxed. Once we got into the clear in the stretch, he was game.”

Added Nevin, “There was plenty of speed and Manny [Franco] was able to get him tucked in behind them. He was just sitting in a perfect spot, wheeled him out, and when he asked him to go, he responded really well.”

Syndergaard’s jockey Rajiv Maragh praised his own mount’s effort, who was in the fight throughout and seems to be finding a second lease on life in the Terranova barn.

“He didn’t deserve to lose, he ran so good,” Maragh said. “I just wanted to put him where he was traveling well, and he was always well within himself. Down the backstretch he was in a great spot and traveling nice and he was very comfortable. He kicked hard and the other horse [Honor Up] had to run really hard to beat me.”

Bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd and foaled at Vivien Malloy’s Edition Farm in Hyde Park, Honor Up is out of Unobstructed View, a Florida-bred daughter of Yes It’s True who was graded stakes-placed and stakes-placed as a juvenile. Of her five winning offspring, Honor Up is her second stakes winner, following in the hoofprints of his Kentucky-bred full brother Blueridge Traveler who has bankrolled $319,000.

Saratoga Seven Racing Partners purchased Honor Up at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton preferred New York yearling sale for $65,000 from the Gainesway consignment. In 14 career starts the 4-year-old has earned $276,388 from five wins, three seconds and a third.


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