Time To Fire Up The Cigar

A pair of 3-year-olds headline the field of 11 drawn for Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 dollar Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Park on Saturday.  MAXIMUM SECURITY and SPUN TO RUN are expected to be the top two choices.

The one-turn mile is the final race on a card of 10 with Post Time scheduled for 4:16 pm. Here then is a look at the field.

1.  WHITMORE  [ML 8-1]  Trainer: Ron Moquett.  Jockey: Joel Rosario.  This Grade 1 Victor is known for a late running style that has allowed him Win to frequently, and hit the board in sprints.  His last Victory came in March at Oaklawn Park going six furlongs. In this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, in his 2nd start off the layoff, he broke slowly and rallied to finish 3rd at odds of 19-1.  This will be the first time that the 6-year-old will run at the mile distance.  He does have an allowance Win in his only start at the Big A back in 2016.

2.  BAL HABOUR  [ML 8-1]  Trainer: Todd Pletcher.  Jockey: John Velazquez.  The 4-year-old has run in Graded Stakes company all season.  Although he’s been a bit camera shy as of late with his last Win a year ago in the Gio Ponti at Aqueduct.  He was 2nd in the Woodward (G1), just a half-length behind PERSERVATIONIST, and 3rd in the Fayette (G2) behind TOM’S D’ETAT and MR. FREEZE.  He prefers to be close to the early pace.

3.  FOREWARNED  [ML 30-1]  Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis.  Jockey: Anthony Salgado.  The 4-year-old Ohio-bred Won a state-bred race at Ohio’s Mahoning Valley in his most recent start.  Trainer Uriah St. Lewis is never afraid to come to New York to take a shot in Graded Stakes races.  FOREWARNED was 8th in the Woodward and 5th in the Whitney this year.  The Cigar Mile looks to be another very tough spot for this late runner.

4.  PAT ON THE BACK  [ML 15-1]  Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart.  Jockey: Dylan Davis.  The 5-year-old New York-bred is recently broke through with an impressive stalking Victory in the Kelso (G2) two races back.  Last year, he was 5th in the Cigar Mile at odds of 15-1, after running close to the pace.  He should go off with high odds again.

5.  MAXIMUM SECURITY  [ML 3-2]  Trainer: Jason Servis.  Jockey: Luis Saez.  Despite all of the trials and tribulations, the division leading 3-year-old has compiled quite a record with six Victories in eight starts.  He’s a millionaire with two Grade 1 Wins despite the historic disqualification in the Kentucky Derby (G1).  He was impressive last time out when he beat older horses for the first time while sprinting in the Bold Ruler (G3) at Aqueduct.  He is often on the lead in his races, although he sat off the pace a bit in his Haskell (G1) Victory.  He is the one to beat.

6.  SPUN TO RUN  [ML 5-2]  Trainer: Juan Carlos Guerrero.  Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.  This 3-year-old is at his career best right now and the logical second choice based on his last two Victories against older horses including in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Those Wins earned Beyer Speed Figures that rank in the top five this year for the 3-year-old division.  He likes to press or set the early pace, and it’s to his advantage to draw outside of MAXIMUM SECURITY.

7.  NICODEMUS  [ML 20-1]  Trainer: Linda Rice.  Jockey: Manuel Franco.  The one-turn mile is where this 4-year-old recorded two of his Wins, with the most recent one coming in the Westchester (G3) over a sloppy Belmont Park track.  He returns from a five-month layoff after a pair of 4th place finishes in Grade 2 sprints at Belmont.  Even with a favorable pace scenario for his late running style, this is a tough spot for a comeback race.

8.  NETWORK EFFECT  [ML 15-1]  Trainer: Chad Brown.  Jockey: Javier Castellano.  He is lightly raced with a mere four career starts, with only one this season- when he returned to the races after an 11-month layoff to Win an Allowance race at Aqueduct. As a juvenile, he was 2nd in the Remsen (G2) and the Nashua (G3) at the Big A.  He is a late runner who is loaded with talent and is facing older horses for the first time in a tough spot.  He would need to greatly advance off the recent comeback Victory.

9.  LOOKING AT BIKINIS  [ML 15-1]  Trainer: Chad Brown.  Jockey: Jose Ortiz.  This 3-year-old is also lightly raced with only five career starts.  He’ll take on older opponents for the first time off an Allowance score at Keeneland.  Before that, he ran at the back of the field in the Travers (G1) and was 3rd in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga.  Twice he Won from off the pace, but in two starts on wet tracks he raced on the lead.  He should not be discounted.

10.  TALE OF SILENCE  [ML 20-1]  Barclay Tagg.  Jockey: Junior Alvarado.  This 5-year-old was last seen running 2nd to MAXIMUM SECURITY in the Bold Ruler when he rallied up the rail at odds of 23-1.  Last year, he was the 12-1 Winner of the Westchester (G3) going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park.  With so many higher profile horses in the field, he will once again come with big odds, with a chance to hit the board.

11.  TRUE TIMBER  [ML 15-1]  Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin.  Jockey: Joe Bravo.  Another one of the hard-knocking older horses in the field, he was 3rd in his last two starts in Graded Stakes races in New York and he was 2nd in Cigar Mile last year.  He has yet to Win a Stakes Race, and is win-less in four tries at the mile distance.

Summary: The bottom line in the Cigar Mile is that the 3-year-olds are better than the older horses. MAXIMUM SECURITY and SPUN TO RUN both show Graded Wins in non-restricted company, and speed figures higher than their rivals.

The two Chad Brown sophomores, NETWORK EFFECT and LOOKING AT BIKINIS, are lightly raced and are seeking their first Stakes Wins in this Grade 1 against the older guys after recent allowance scores. The talented duo should factor in the Trifecta.

Older horses like BAL HARBOUR, PAT ON THE BACK, WHITMORE and TALE OF SILENCE would also be tough to dismiss on exotics tickets.

The Play: The Daily Racing Blog sees no Value in using #5 and/or #6 on top of this race.  We will certainly use them both in multiple-race wagers (Pick 4, Pick 5).  But in our quest for Value in this race we will side with #9.  We will do a Trifecta key using the #9 with 1-2-4-5-6-8-10.  Also and Exacta key using the #9 over the same numbers.

Best of luck no matter how you play it.


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