Cigar Mile closes out Grade 1 stakes in New York
By Bob Ehalt
The last hurrah on the 2018 New York Racing Association stakes schedule comes Saturday with a package of four stakes topped by the $750,000 Cigar Mile, the final Grade 1 stakes of the year in New York.
The Cigar, the richest of the four stakes that have a combined value of $1.5 million, attracted a competitive field of eight for the prestigious one-turn stakes.
The likely favorite is the world traveler Mendelssohn, who is based in Europe but has made his last five starts in the United States.
Purchased for $3 million as a yearling by Godolphin Racing, the 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy is coming off a fifth-place finish behind Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Though his last three starts have been at a mile-and-a-quarter, Mendelssohn has the kind of speed that should be well-suited by the mile distance.
“We were delighted with his run in the Classic, and we’re very happy with his work since,” said Aidan O’Brien, Europe’s premier trainer. “We always thought a mile would not be a problem to him,” said O’Brien. “We have been very happy with the way he has developed from two to three. He has usually been a good breaker and a good strong traveler in his races.”
Mendelssohn was pegged as a 2-1 morning-line favorite, with Copper Town at 5-2 and Patternrecognition the 7-2 third choice.
Copper Town returned from a year-long layoff with an impressive five-length win in a Keeneland for seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Trained by Chad Brown, Patternrecognition is coming off a win in the Grade 2 Kelso at a mile, a race that featured fellow Cigar starters Sunny Ridge (9-2) and Timeline.
“It took him a while to develop, but he’s turned into a nice horse,” Brown said. “He just has to keep moving forward. It’s a tough race, but he’s a nice horse and on his best day he’s capable of being competitive in here. He does like Aqueduct and it’s part of the reason we pointed to this race.”
As for Timeline, who is priced at 10-1 off a third in the Kelso, Brown says, “”He’s had a couple of minor setbacks here and there, so we haven’t raced him as much as we would have liked to, but he seems to be training well right now. At this stage of his career, it’s a good test to see what we do going forward with him.”
The rest of the field includes Pat On the Back (15-1), Stan the Man (30-1) and True Timber (12-1).
The Cigar will be the ninth race on a 10-race card with a post time of 3:45 p.m.
Also on the card are the Demoiselle (race four), the Go For Wand (sixth) and Remsen (eighth).
The Remsen and Cigar Mile can be seen live on MSG+ from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.