Cigar Mile closes out Grade 1 racing in New York
By Bob Ehalt
It’s now December and 2017 is on its last legs.
So, too, is the New York racing season, which says goodbye on Saturday to graded stakes until 2018.
A quartet of the Go For Wand (G3), Demoiselle (G2), Remsen (G2) and Cigar Mile (G1) highlight a 10-race card that starts at 11:30 a.m. to make sure there’s enough sunlight to complete the card.
The 29th running of the Cigar Mile is the centerpiece of the card with a field of 10 vying for a $750,000 purse.
The favorite figures to be Sharp Azteca (2-1 morning line), who is coming off a sharp second in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar. Prior to that, he was an easy winner of the Kelso (G2) and earlier in the year he was second in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and third by a length in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2) in Dubai. All four of those races were at Saturday’s one-mile distance.
“I want to get a Grade 1 for him,” said trainer Jorge Navarro, who is switching riders from Paco Lopez to four-time Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano. “Once he retires, I want to hear that people are using him because of what he’s shown as a runner, but I think he just needs that Grade 1 under his belt. We have the horse, I believe that. With the seconds and thirds, the track wasn’t playing to our advantage or we had bad positions or guys being on top of him, but I know we have a good horse, and now we’ve got a top rider too.”
The major contenders also include Practical Joke (7-2), who is 5-for-5 in one-turn races like the Cigar Mile, and Mind Your Biscuits (5-1), who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and is stretching out beyond seven furlongs for the first time in two years.
Also in the field are Seymourdini (6-1), Just Call Kenny (30-1), Bold Ruler (G3) winner Tom’s Ready, West Coast shipper Americanize (12-1), Vulcan’s Forge (20-1), Summer Revolution (15-1) and Beasley (12-1).
The card also includes mile-and-an-eighth stakes for both 2-year-old colts and fillies.
Avery Island, coming off a decisive win in the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct, is the 3-1 favorite in the Remsen for males.
The main challenges could come from Alkhaatam (7-2 morning line) and Triple Dog Dare (6-1), who were second and third, respectively, in an Oct. 25 maiden race at Belmont Park. While a maiden might seem overmatched in a stakes, remember, Good Magic was a maiden when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar. Also remember, Good Magic is trained by Chad Brown, who trains Alkhaatam, and owned by Bob Edwards’ e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, who also owns Triple Dog Dare.
The $250,000 Demoiselle for fillies has a field of eight topped by Wonder Gadot (2-1), who was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and undefeated Tempted (G3) winner Daisy (5-2).
The array of stakes begins with the $200,000 Go For Wand (G3) in the sixth race at 2:03 p.m. Jamyson ‘n Ginger (9-5) and Highway Star (2-1), who was 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) behind stablemate Bar of Gold, are the standouts in a field of seven that will travel a mile.