Honor Up rallies from outside to win the Say Florida Sandy
by Brian Bohl
Saratoga Seven Racing Partners' Honor Up used a five-path trip in deep stretch to overtake a group of rivals with more extensive stakes experience, edging Syndergaard by a neck to win the second running of the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy for New York-bred 4-year-olds and up on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Making just his second career stakes start and first since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Lexington last April, Honor Up was second-to-last in the eight-horse field breaking from the outside post, as Jewel Can Disco led through an opening quarter-mile in 22.75 seconds and Royal Asset gaining command with the half in 46.13 on the main track labeled fast.
Jockey Manny Franco, aboard Honor Up for the first time, urged the 4-year-old To Honor and Serve colt up nearing the turn.
With the field bunched up at the top of the stretch, Honor Up found room wide and made a final charge, first passing even-money favorite Gold for the King, Morning Breeze and Royal Asset. Honor Up, trained by Michelle Nevin, continued to press on, overtaking Syndergaard to complete seven furlongs in a final time of 1:23.56.
"He's a nice horse. I've been working him in the mornings, and I liked how he's been coming along," Franco said. "I just followed the instructions. Michelle 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."
Honor Up, off at 5-2, returned $7.10 on a $2 win bet. Entering the Say Florida Sandy, the Gold Member of the NYRA Starter Loyalty Program was 3-1-1 in seven starts since the Lexington and improved to 3-2-0 in five starts all-time at the Big A.
Since being transferred to Nevin's barn, Honor Up has won three of four starts.
"There was plenty of speed and Manny was able to get him tucked in behind them," Nevin said. "He was just sitting in a perfect spot, wheeled him out, and when he asked him to go, he responded really well."
Syndergaard, trained by John Terranova, finished 1 3/4-lengths in front of the Charlton Baker-trained Gold for the King for second.
"He didn't deserve to lose, he ran so good," said Syndergaard jockey Rajiv Maragh. "I just wanted to put him where he was travelling 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."
Morning Breez, Celtic Chaos, Royal Asset, Winston's Chance and Jewel Can Disco completed the order of finish. Bluegrass Express was scratched.
Live racing will return Sunday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Rego Park for state-bred 3-year-olds. First post time is 12:50 p.m.