Review of Cigar Mile, Grade I, at Aqueduct on Saturday

The Cigar Mile was run as the NYRA Mile prior to 1997. It was renamed that year in honor of the two-time Horse of the Year who won the 1994 edition. Cigar equaled Citation’s modern-day North American record of 16 consecutive victories with his win in the Citation Challenge at Arlington International in 1996. Among his victories during that streak were the 1995 Woodward, the 1995 Jockey Club Gold Cub, the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and the 1996 Woodward, all at Belmont Park; as well as the aforementioned 1994 NYRA Mile at Aqueduct. The NYRA Mile was created by former NYRA President Jerry McKeon. The one-mile distance was chosen to attract both sprinters and distance horses. Not run in 1993.

Race 9. Cigar Mile, Grade I. For three-year-old and up at 1 mile on dirt. Purse $750,000.

Entries:

PP Horse Jockey Trainer M/L
1 Mendelssohn Ryan Moore Aidan O’Brien 2/1
2 Sunny Ridge Irad Ortiz, Jr. Jason Servis 9/2
3 Pat On the Back Dylan Davis Jeremiah Englehart 15/1
4 Stan the Man Eric Cancel John Terranova II 30/1
5 Copper Town Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher 5/2
6 True Timber Joe Bravo Kiaran  McLaughlin 12/1
7 Timeline John  Velazquez Chad Brown 10/1
8 Patternrecognition Jose Ortiz Chad Brown 7/2

Mendelssohn is looking for his first win on U.S. dirt in Cigar Mile, and against a field where only he owns a previous win at the top level. Mendelssohn is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Mendelssohn is a world traveler, He won races in Ireland, Dubai, and the United States, highlighted by his November 2017 victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G IT) at Del Mar and his winning the UAE Derby. Following a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby (GII), he finished last, he ran third in the Dwyer Stakes (GIII), second in the Runhappy Travers Stakes, (GI), and third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, (G1).

This might be the softest field Mendelssohn has faced since coming to America. He has the rail and plenty of speed. His class and toughness but no victories recently. Another concern is the number of back-and-forth trips between Europe and the United States potentially taking a toll on him late in his 2018 season.

Patternrecognition in his first graded start won Kelso Handicap, (GII), and is on a two race win streak by winning an allowance optional race going seven furlongs at Saratoga. Patternrecognition has come into his own as a winner of two straight, including the Grade 2 Kelso last time out over a couple others in here. He has broad talent and cruising speed, but against Mendelssohn might have to change tactics and rate.

Timeline has won five of 11 starts, including the Peter Pan Stakes (GIII) and Pegasus Stakes (GIII).  He ran fifth in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (GI) and finished his sophomore season with a seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby (GI). The Cigar Mile is his sixth start this year. True Timber has been a different horse going one turn. He is 3-for-6 and hit the board in all six of those races. He was second in the Bold Ruler last out but got into trouble. This race has lots of pace to run at and will be coming late. He should be on the board.

Copper Town is on a three-race win streak for trainer Todd Pletcher. He won his third outing in October 2017 by 6 1/4-lengths score in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Belmont. Following a one-year layoff, he won an optional-claiming allowance at Keenland on October 13 field by five lengths.

Pat On the Back has a record for 21 starts of  6-4-4 record and has $727,532 in earnings. He won a pair of restricted stakes this year, the Saginaw Stakes in July and the Empire Classic Handicap last time out.

He will be facing Grade I company for the first time in the Cigar Mile . He did run a close second to Diversify in the Commentator Stakes on May 28.

Sunny Ridge has hit the board in all five starts at the distance. Going around one turn will be a big help and has beaten and run well against a lot of these. An upset is possible and should be on the board.

Our Top Three Picks

  • Patternrecognition
  • Sunny Ridge
  • Mendelssohn

 

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