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Servis Gets Back on Road to Kentucky Derby
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – John Servis considers himself extremely fortunate to have enjoyed an idyllic journey along the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2004 with Smarty Jones, who emerged undefeated from the first two legs of the Triple Crown before suffering his first loss in the Belmont Stakes.
The Pennsylvania-based trainer doesn’t expect to relive that once-in-a-lifetime experience, but he will have the benefit from that experience when he sends Yourhonorandglory onto this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby in Sunday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby.
“It’s helped me tremendously,” Servis said. “It let’s you know what routes you want to take to line things up for your horses. If you’re lucky to get to that point, you’re ready to handle the pressure because you know what it’s like.”
Servis, who prepared Smarty Jones for the Triple Crown at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has ventured to South Florida for the first time to prepare Yourhonorandglory at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Boynton Beach.
“One of the reasons I came here instead of Arkansas is that I have three 3-year-olds that have the ability I think to get better and be competitive horses in some of the major races,” said Servis, who is also pointing Window Boy and Adirondack King to stakes at Gulfstream Park. “If I go to Arkansas there’s not a lot of options. If you have one horse, that’s one thing. But when you have three, there are not a lot of options there. The fact that six of the last eight Derby winners have come out of Palm Meadows, I thought it wasn’t a bad idea to come here.”
Yourhonorandglory, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Lawyer Ron who has won two of four starts at Parx, will be making his first stakes start Sunday in the Gulfstream Park Derby.
“I’m hoping he continues to progress. He’s raced well. He’s raced a little green,” Servis said. “He’s obviously a horse that needs to get a lot better, but I’m hoping he will. He acts like he’s got a lot more there.”
Yourhonorandglory faded to ninth in a five-furlong sprint in his debut at Parx on Sept. 10, before scoring by nearly eight lengths while setting the pace at a mile in his first start around two turns.
“He’s definitely a two-turn horse. He’s a big, old rangy colt that gets over a lot of ground,” Servis said. “The only reason I sprinted him the first time was that it was a Pennsylvania-bred race, and I just thought he was much better than those horses and can win anyway going short.”
Yourhonorandglory was taken off the pace in his most recent start before opening up a clear lead in the stretch and holding on to the victory by a neck over Window Boy.
“He’s very immature. We’re just taking it step by step,” Servis said. “We thought it would be thing for him to tuck in and get behind horses. He settled nice and ran well. He got a little lazy on the front end once he got the lead and waited on horses. That horse that was second is also my horse and I have high hopes for him.”
Kendrick Carmouche, who has ridden Yourhonorandglory in his first four starts, has retained the mount for the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Derby, in which he will have to cope with the far outside No. 11 post position.
“Kendrick has taken a big interest in this colt from the beginning. He’s high on him. He was supposed to come down to ride the Mr. Prospector the day before, so he asked me if I would keep him on the horse,” said Servis, who remained loyal to Pennsylvania-based rider Stuart Elliott throughout Smarty Jones’ career. “I thought it would be good for the horse. He knows the horse and has a lot of confidence in the horse”