Maximum Security and Spun to Run headline thrilling renewal of G1 Cigar Mile OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Multiple Grade 1-winner Maximum Security and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile victor Spun to Run headline a talented field of 11 for the 31st running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The lucrative Cigar Mile card, which also features the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds, the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies, the Grade 3, $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap for older fillies and mares, as well as the rescheduled $150,000 Winter Memories for sophomore fillies and the $125,000 Autumn Days for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, is the signature event of the Aqueduct fall meet.
Carded as Race 10 with a local post time of 4:16 p.m. Eastern, the Cigar Mile will anchor a mandatory payout in the Empire 6 which boasts a jackpot of $520,913 heading into Thursday’s Big A card.
The Cigar Mile Day card will be televised on a special edition of America’s Day at the Races airing on FS2 and MSG+ from 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races is hosted by Greg Wolf alongside a broadcast team that includes NYRA handicapper and analysts Andy Serling, Maggie Wolfendale, and retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. John Imbriale will provide live race calls throughout the day at the Big A.
Gary and Mary West’s multiple Grade 1-winner Maximum Security has crossed the wire first in seven of eight career starts, including Grade 1 scores in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in March and the Haskell Invitational on July 20 at Monmouth Park.
Maximum Security left the gate in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs as the 9-2 second choice with regular pilot Luis Saez up, and led gate-to-wire in the first leg of the Triple Crown, but was demoted to 17th for interference approaching the five-sixteenths marker.
Last out, Maximum Security returned off a three-month layoff following his Haskell score to capture the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, a seven furlong test against older company, at Belmont.
Trained by Jason Servis, the son of New Year’s Day breezed three furlongs in 42.20 on Sunday morning on the Belmont training track.
Luis Saez retains the mount from post 5.
Robert P. Donaldson’s Spun to Run, trained by Juan Carlos Guerrero, boasts a record of 5-1-3 from 11 career starts. By Hard Spun, and out of the stakes winning dam Yawkey Way, Spun to Run arrives at the Cigar Mile from a 9-1 front-running score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Guerrero credited Irad Ortiz, Jr. for providing Spun to Run a perfect trip in the Dirt Mile as he bested a field of 10, led by multiple Grade 1-winner Omaha Beach.
“He broke perfect and Irad sent him pretty good which I asked him to do. At the half-mile, when I saw Blue Chipper leaving him alone by a couple lengths, I thought it was perfect. He didn’t have to go head and head. I knew from there he would be tough to beat,” said Guerrero. “With his blinkers on, no matter how fast he’s going, he’s in his own little world. It wasn’t that he was going to wait for horses, it was just a matter of when the rider asked him, he was going to take off. In the straightaway, he started lugging out but Irad made him change leads nicely and that was it. I really thought we were winners at the half-mile.”
Spun to Run, who captured the Grade 3 Smarty Jones in September at Parx, has posted a pair of bullet works following his Breeders’ Cup score including a five furlong effort in 59.88 on Saturday at Parx.
“Both works have been solid. He’s coming into the race very nicely,” said Guerrero. “I thought he might have went a little fast in Saturday’s work, but watching him gallop today, if anything, it made him pick up the bit even more. Today was a key day to see what the work took out of him and if anything it put him right back into the bit. He’s pumped up. He’s ready to go.”
With a perfect record in three starts at the Cigar Mile distance, Guerrero said Spun to Run showed improvement with the addition of blinkers which he sported for the first time when third in the nine-furlong Haskell off a four-month layoff.
The talented dark bay, racing without blinkers under Luis Reyes, finished third in a pair of competitive maiden events at Aqueduct over the winter including a December 15 sprint won by eventual Grade 3 Gotham winner Haikal and a January 4 event won by stakes-placed Tikhvin Flew.
“I like my horses to have a race or two without [blinkers] until I’m happy with it and add blinkers on my terms,” said Guerrero. “When he first went to New York, Luis told me he needed blinkers but I like my horses to see the world a little bit.”I watched him gallop one day when I was on my pony and, as he went by me, he was looking at me. I said, ‘Oh boy, this is not good’,” added Guerrero. “When I put the blinkers on him the next day, he was a different horse. I’m still happy I didn’t put them on too soon, so he wasn’t too aggressive too early in his career.”
Spun to Run, who will ship to New York on the morning of the race, will be piloted by Aqueduct fall meet leading rider Ortiz, Jr. from post 6.
Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables and Head of Plains Partners’ Whitmore will stretch out beyond seven furlongs for the first time since an off-the-board effort in the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Ron Moquett, the 6-year-old Pleasantly Perfect chestnut has since featured exclusively in sprint stakes notching graded scores in the 2017 Grade 3 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico, 2017 Grade 2 Phoenix at Keeneland, 2018 Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park and the 2018 Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course.
He’s also featured prominently in the past two runnings of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint finishing second in 2018 at Churchill Downs and third on November 2 at Santa Anita when away slowly from the gate.
“On a day that they weren’t making up a lot of ground and horses closer to the pace were doing better, I thought he did something a little different,” said Moquett of the last-out effort.
Moquett said he is hopeful the stretch out in distance, and significant early pace on hand in the Cigar Mile, will benefit Whitmore.
“Until we do it, you don’t know, but we’re hoping it will set up for him,” said Moquett. “There’s a lot of good horses in here that are going to try and impose their will. You could probably run a race like this over three and four times and have different circumstances every time.”
With a record of 12-9-3 from 30 starts and purse earnings in excess of $2.8 million, Whitmore, who won his only start at Aqueduct sprinting 6 ½-furlongs in 2016, has demonstrated a will to win.
“He’s a very honest horse and he has a lot of ability. I’m proud of the consistency that he brings, and I’m excited about trying something new with him,” said Moquett.
Whitmore has breezed twice following his Breeders’ Cup effort, most recently covering a half-mile in 48.40 at Churchill Downs on November 23. Moquett said the gap on the work tab ahead of Saturday’s test is by design.
“We did some two-minute clips. I was trying to do things just a little bit different and hopefully it works out,” said Moquett. “I think he runs well at seven-eighths and hopefully he likes the added distance.”
Joel Rosario picks up the mount from the inside post.
Calumet Farm’s True Timber, a 5-year-old son of Mineshaft trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, finished second in last year’s Cigar Mile, won by Patternrecognition.
A four-time winner from 21 starts, True Timber is in search of his first stakes score having hit the board in six graded events including a last-out third in the Bold Ruler.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” said McLaughlin, who won the 2007 Cigar Mile with Daaher. “He handles the track well and the distance well. We’re just not sure about this group of horses he’s up against. It’s a tough race. But he’s doing well, so we’re hopeful.”
Joe Bravo retains the mount from post 11.
Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables popular New York-bred Pat On the Back made the grade in the Grade 2 Kelso on September 21 at Belmont. The 5-year-old Congrats chestnut, bred by Sugar Maple Farm, boasts a record of three wins and two seconds from five starts this campaign including restricted stakes scores in the Affirmed Success and Commentator.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Pat On the Back was fifth in last year’s Cigar Mile. Dylan Davis has the call from post 4.
Aqueduct fall meet-leading trainer Chad Brown, who captured the Cigar Mile with Connect in 2016 and Patternrecognition a year ago, will saddle Network Effect and Looking At Bikinis.
Klaravich Stables’ Network Effect, a Mark Valeski chestnut, completed the exacta in the Grade 3 Nashua and Grade 2 Remsen in 2018. He returned off an 11-month layoff on November 10 to capture a one-mile allowance tilt at Aqueduct, garnering a 91 Beyer Speed Figure.
Long Lake Stable, Madaket Stables, Thomas Coleman and Doheny Racing Stable’s Looking At Bikinis owns a record of 3-0-1 from five starts. Following a third in the Curlin at Saratoga, the Looking At Lucky colt finished off-the-board in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers. Last out, he returned to winning form with a 4 ½-length score in a Keeneland allowance tilt on October 4.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will pilot Network Effect from post 8, while Jose Ortiz has the call on Looking At Bikinis from post 9.
Tale of Silence will look to give owner-breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Barclay Tagg their third Cigar Mile score having connected previously with Tale of Ekati (2008) and Jersey Town (2010).
The 5-year-old son of Tale of the Cat made the grade in the 2018 Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont and will be in search of his first win this campaign with a record of two seconds and one third from six starts. He rallied along the rail last out when second to Maximum Security in the Bold Ruler.
Tale of Silence will emerge from post 10 under Junior Alvarado.
Red Oak Stable homebred Bal Harbour’s last score came in the one-mile Gio Ponti at the Big A last November. The First Samurai chestnut finished second in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga in August and third last out in the Grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland. He will look to provide trainer Todd Pletcher a fifth win in the Cigar Mile, joining Left Bank (2001), Lion Tamer (2004), Purge (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2012).
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride from post 2.
Everything’s Cricket Racing and Lawrence Goichman’s Nicodemus returns off a five-month layoff for trainer Linda Rice. The 4-year-old Candy Ride colt earned a career-best 101 Beyer winning the Grade 3 Westchester on May 4 at Belmont which was followed by a pair of fourth-place efforts in the Grade 2 True North and Grade 2 John A. Nerud on Big Sandy.
Manny Franco will pilot Nicodemus from post 7.
Trin-Brook Stables’ Forewarned will look to provide trainer Uriah St. Lewis, who won the 2018 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup with 45-1 shot Discreet Lover, with another upset score in a heralded New York race.
The 4-year-old Flat Out colt, who ran fifth in the Grade 1 Whitney this summer at 89-1 at the Spa, has won seven of 22 career starts. Last out, the Ohio-bred bay captured the Best of Ohio Endurance on October 26 at Mahoning Valley.
Anthony Salgado retains the mount from post 3.
First post on Saturday’s 10-race card is 11:30 a.m. Gates will open to the public at 10:30 a.m.
Via NYRA Press Office