Grade 1 Cigar Mile Preview

Grade 1 Cigar Mile
Aqueduct
1 Mile
Three-years-old and up
Purse: $250,000
Post Time: 3:38 ET

#

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

ML

1

1

Girolamo

Garcia, A.

bin Suroor, Saeed

5/2

1A

4

Vineyard Haven

Cohen, D.

bin Suroor, Saeed

5/2

2

2

Soaring Empire

Prado, E.

Gambolati, Cam

20/1

3

3

Bribon (FR)

Velazquez, J.

Pletcher, Todd

3/1

4

5

Haynesfield

Castellano, J.

Asmussen, Steve

7/2

5

6

Jersey Town

Velasquez, C.

Tagg, Barclay

12/1

6

7

Friend Or Foe

Solis, A.

Kimmel, John

8/1

7

8

Musket Man

Maragh, R.

Ryan, Derek

9/2

8

9

Half Metal Jacket

Jara, F.

Rodriguez, Rudy

12/1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aqueduct Scratches, Changes and Track Conditions

Today's Cigar Mile at Aqueduct features of field of nine horses and eight betting interests, with four of the nine coming in off a last start at the Breeders' Cup.  A quick rundown of each entry in today's field:

1-Giorlamo (5/2): The betting favorite in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (albeit, at a tepid 5/1), Girolamo ran as bad of a race as he did in the 2009 Classic at Santa Anita, finishing well back of the winners and never threatening.  All his best races have come in New York, so perhaps he just prefers to be on his home turf.  He should run better than that last one but he's up against a pretty tough field and his post position requires that he get himself positioned in a good spot early on. 

1a-Vineyard Haven (5/2): The second half of the Godolphin entry is coming out of a sixth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile just three weeks ago.  Vineyard Haven runs well on the slop, so track condition could be an advantage if things were to get wet by post time.  This colt was 3rd in this race last year, beaten by just ¾ of a length by Kodiak Kowboy and Bribon (FR). 

2-Soaring Empirse (20/1): Won the Rutgers Stakes at Monmouth last time out and was 3rd in the Grade 3 Pegasus prior to that.  The Rutgers looks pretty thin in terms of depth so I'm not sure if we should place much emphasis on the big fig he earned in that one.  This colt rarely shows any speed despite clicking off repeated bullets in the morning, and while I suppose he could surprise this field, he also seems like an unlikely winner.

3-Bribon (FR) (3/1): This versatile gelding has won at 6 furlongs, 7 furlongs and a mile over the last two years and just missed winning this race a year ago when he came up about short of Kodiak Kowboy.  He's clicked off three very nice races in his last four attempts, with the only clunker coming in the Forego back on September 4th.  He had a bit of an excuse in that one as he broke poorly.  A clean trip in this race could make him the one to beat.

4-Haynesfield (7/2):  He didn't accomplish much in the Breeders' Cup Classic but the early pace in that race was never going to be advantageous to this colt.  Haynesfield is at his most dangerous when he can grab an uncontested early lead, something he was not able to do in his loses in the Classic and the Whitney.  And while there is some speed around him in this race, whether or not he'll be able to break free will be determined by Vineyard Haven and Friend Or Foe.  The big question I have with this colt is "how much did that Breeders' Cup race take out of him?"  The track at Churchill was fairly slow and tiring all weekend long and it remains to be seen how horses bounce back from those competitive and taxing races.  While Haynesfield is one of the more likely winners of this race, it's also possible that he might not have a ton in the tank right now. 

5-Jersey Town (12/1): Ran a solid second to Bribon in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at the end of October and he's fared decently when running a mile, although against lesser competition (3rd in the Grade 2 Kelso and 2nd in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile).  He's a hard-knocking horse that is very consistent from race to race (seven straight top-3 finishes) and he appears to be versatile enough to put in a top effort in this one.  He could be a surprise winner if the Breeders' Cup horses are not on top of their game and if Bribon doesn't fire.

6-Friend Or Foe (8/1): If this colt is going to finally break through with a graded stakes win, a race at a mile probably is the best chance he'll have.  He tried the Jim Dandy and the Travers this summer but didn't threaten the winners in either of those races, although he ran pretty well in the Jim Dandy.  If you take out both of those two-turn races from his past performances, he's a perfect 4-for-4 in one-turn events.  Three of those races were against New York-breds, so there's a bit of a caveat in that stat.  But at the same time, it seems clear that he prefers a one-turn trip.  I'd like to see a bit better than 8/1 on this colt before I jump onboard, but he's one to watch in the build-up to post time.

7-Musket Man (9/2): After a string of races where he finished 3rd or better, Musket Man finally met his match in the Breeders' Cup Classic where he faded to 7that the wire, ten lengths behind Blame and Zenyatta.  He's only tried a one-turn mile once in his career (2nd in the Met Mile) but he ran credibly in that race and would appear to be a contender for win honors, assuming he bounces back to his usual form. 

8-Half Metal Jacket (12/1): This gelding may not have the class that most in this field possess, but he absolutely loves the Big A (4-3-1-0) and races at a mile (6-4-1-1).  Whether that will be enough to push him past a competitive field like this...well, that's a much more difficult task.  His only try against graded company came on Preakness day in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap, a race that saw him break a bit on the slow side and then trail the field for most of the six furlongs.  That wasn't his best distance of ground so there is nothing wrong with drawing a line through that one.

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