Maximum Security, Spun To Run Lead Cigar Mile
Eleven Will Line Up For Aqueduct Saturday Feature
By Margaret Ransom
Multiple grade 1 winner and disqualified Kentucky Derby (GI) hero Maximum Security will face off against a talented field of ten others, including Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) hero Spun to Run, in Saturday’s $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct. The Jason Servis-trained son of New Year’s Day starts for the first time since winning the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park six weeks ago.
There’s a saying in racing that goes something like “great milers make great stallions” and when it comes to the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct it’s ironic one of the most important one-mile dirt events is named after a horse who after a legendary career was unable to actually make a great stallion but who became one of the industry’s greatest ambassadors in his retirement years. The great Allen Paulson homebred son of Palace Music lived in the Hall of Champions and greeted fans daily at the Kentucky Horse Park from 1999 after multiple attempts to correct his fertility failed until his death in October of 2014 at age 24.
Cigar actually won his first career graded stakes in the race now named for him in 1994 when it was known as the NYRA Mile and when it was also the second race in his win streak that captivated America in the mid-90s as the flashy bay chased the fabled Citation’s record of 16 consecutive victories, which he easily accomplished. When he retired in 1996 with $9,999,815, which included victories in the inaugural Dubai World Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and 11 other grade 1s, he was North America’s richest racehorse of all time.
But long before Cigar and in the more than 2 1/2 decades since his win, many other talented horses count the NYRA/Cigar Mile as parts of their amazing resumes, including Forty Niner, Quiet American, Rubiano, Congaree, Flat Out and Private Zone. Patternrecognition won this race a year ago before finishing a disappointing 12th in the Pegasus World Cup (GI) and subsequently retiring in March.
Maximum Security, who is owned and was bred by Gary and Mary West, worked three furlongs in :42 1/5 on Sunday at Belmont and will be ridden by regular rider Luis Saez. Both will break from post position five.
Robert P. Donaldson’s Spun to Run hasn’t started since winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but has been training well for the past few weeks at his home base of Parx in the care Juan Carlos Guerrero, boasts a record of 5-1-3 from 11 career starts. He posted a pair of bullet works over the past couple of weeks in preparation for this race.
The 3-year-old Hard Spun colt, who has never lost in three tries at a mile in his 11-race career so far will again have Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons once again and drew post six.
“(In the Breeders’ Cup) he broke perfect and Irad sent him pretty good which I asked him to do,” Guerrero said of the colt’s trip in the Dirt Mile. “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.
“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.”
Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables and Head of Plains Partners’ Whitmore drew the inside post postion in what will be his his first start since a third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) and first beyond seven furlongs since an unplaced finish in the 2016 Kentucky Derby. The grade 1-winning Ron Moquett-trained son of Pleasantly Perfect has won 12 of 30 career starts overall and has banked more than $2.8 million, but has never tested this one-mile distance.
“Until we do it, you don’t know, but we’re hoping it will set up for him,” Moquett said. “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.
“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.”
Joel Rosario, who has yet to win a Cigar Mile in his career, will be back aboard.
Kiaran McLaughlin, who sent out Daaher to win this race in 2007, will tighten the girth on Calumet Farm’s True Timber, who was second in last year’s Cigar Mile behind Patternrecognition. The 5-year-old son of Mineshaft has yet to win a stakes in his career, but has placed in the most coveted stakes six times in his 21starts.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” McLaughlin said. “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 will be back in the saddle from post 11.
Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables’ Pat On the Back, who won the Kelso Stakes (GII) in September, is back for his first start since a third-place finish in the Empire Classic in mid-October. The 5-year-old New York-bred son of Congrats also won two other stakes against in restricted company in the Affirmed Success Stakes and Commentator Stakes earlier this year. Jeremiah Englehart trains Pat On the Back and Dylan Davis will ride from post position four.
Two-time Cigar Mile winner Chad Brown (Connect in 2016 and Patternrecognition a year ago) sends out a pair this year in Network Effect and Looking At Bikinis. Klaravich Stables’ Network Effect is stakes placed and is back in added-money competition after a lengthy break and an allowance win over this track a month ago. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has accepted the call and the two will break from post position eight. Long Lake Stable, Madaket Stables, Thomas Coleman and Doheny Racing Stable’s lightly raced Looking At Bikinis has won three of five starts but has only managed a single third-place finish in two stakes starts. The son of Lookin at Lucky is coming off a win in a Keenland allowance race two months ago. Jose Ortiz has the call from post nine.
Tale of Silence will look to give owner-breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Barclay Tagg their third Cigar Mile score having connected previously togher with Tale of Ekati (2008) and Jersey Town (2010). Tale of Silence drew post ten and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado. Red Oak Stable’s homebred Bal Harbour hasn’t won in more than a year, but has only finished worse than third once in seven starts in mostly graded stakes company since. Todd Pletcher, who has four Cigar Mile victories already — Left Bank (2001), Lion Tamer (2004), Purge (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2012) — trains and John Velazquez will ride from post position two.
Everything’s Cricket Racing and Lawrence Goichman’s Nicodemus, who won the Westchester Stakes (GIII) at this distance in May but hasn’t raced since mid-July returns off a five-month layoff for trainer Linda Rice. The 4-year-old Candy Ride colt will have Manny Franco in the saddle and break from post position seven.
Trin-Brook Stables’ Ohio-bred Forewarned who won the Best of Ohio Endurance at Mahoning Valley on October 26, returns to New York for trainer Uriah St. Lewis. Jockey Anthony Salgado is back aboard from post position three.
The Cigar Mile has been carded as Race 10 with a local post time of 4:16 p.m. ET. First post on Saturday is at 11:00 a.m.
The Cigar Mile card also features the $250,000 Remsen Stakes (GII) for 2-year-olds, the $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes (GII) for 2-year-old fillies, the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (GIII) 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.
The entire day’s races will be televised on a special edition of America’s Day at the Races airing on FS2 and MSG+ from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET. Check your local listings for additional channel information.