Happy Cigar Mile Day! 

It’s inexplicable that the Cigar Mile has been reduced to a Grade II.  Recent winners of the Cigar include Stay Thirsty (Travers), Flat Out (Suburban twice, Jockey Club Gold Cup twice), Tonalist (Belmont, Jockey Club Gold Cup twice), and Maximum Security who won two Grade Is even after he left the Jason Servis barn.  How a race with those winners can be reduced from a Grade I to a Grade II is beyond me, but yet here we are.   

But that grading change reveals a bigger issue. The Met Mile is now the only Grade I dirt mile race in North America for three and up colts outside of the Breeders’ Cup. Dirt mile races are the premier middle distance and are contested on most major racing circuits (New York, Florida, Kentucky). How can there only be a single Grade I going a mile on the dirt? 

Trivia question What was the Cigar Mile called prior to being named for the mighty Cigar? 

Race 9 The Remsen – Grade II 

One Mile and a Furlong on the Dirt for Two Year Olds   

The Remsen is part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series and the top five finishers will be awarded Derby points (10-5-3-2-1).  This is a deep and competitive renewal where you can make the case for almost every entrant. 

  1. Le Dom Bro: This Much Macho Man colt got the job done at the Spa in an auction price restricted Maiden Special Weight where he was game from the rail. Had time off after that win but has been training steadily. Early speed. Passing.
  2. Domestic Product: Broke his maiden in impressive fashion going nine furlongs over this track besting an odds on coupled entry (75 Beyer). He can get the distance and can move forward in just his third start. Trainer Stat: Chad Brown is 11% (2/14) with two year olds in graded dirt route stakes. Gets a piece.
  3. Dornoch: Broke his maiden last out at Keeneland going to gate to wire while traveling eight and a half furlongs (90 Beyer) at 1/2 odds. Didn’t switch leads in the stretch. Likely pace setter but should have company up front. Come and catch me.
  4. Moonlight: Buried a MSW field two back going the flat mile at Aqueduct (90 Beyer) where he won by eight lengths.  Came back off that win in the Grade III Street Sense at Churchill where he caught a sloppy track (78 Beyer) and was out finished in the stretch by the winner who had a much better trip. Look for a rebound today. Irad/Pletcher. Dangerous.
  5. Drum Roll Please: Broke his maiden going the flat mile by gaining position from the outside while stalking the leaders. He then kicked on at the quarter pole to get the win (79 Beyer). Has several quick works in preparation for this effort. Stalk and pounce type. Exotics potential.
  6. Billal: Broke his maiden two back as the odd one favorite going seven furlongs over the Aqueduct main track (75 Beyer). Off that win he ran in the Nashua Stakes where he had a nice stalking trip but was no match for the two front runners (77 Beyer). Blinkers come OFF.  He’s a step below the best in this field.
  7. Sierra Leone: $2.3 million Gun Runner colt broke his maiden at first asking for Chad Brown last month going the flat mile over this track (71 Beyer). He sat mid-pack but he was green and repeatedly lugged in. Faces more experienced. Will take a lot of money. Underlay. Trainer Stat: Chad Brown is 11% (2/14) with two year olds in graded dirt route stakes. Lean against.
  8. Where’s Chris: Dutrow trainee won the local prep going the flat mile in the Nashua. While he only defeated four opponents he posted a nice 88 Beyer and outdueled the favorite to win by a half-length after being up on the pace the whole way. He appears tactical enough to gain position from this post and can finish off a race. Trainer Stat: Dutrow is winning at a 39% clip over the past month (7 for 18). The Pick.
  9. Copper Tax: Winner of five straight including two overnight stakes. In his most recent effort he came off the pace at Laurel in the ungraded James Lewis Stakes (82 Beyer). That was his first away from his Delaware Park homebase. Does he want this far? Early speed.  
  10. Private Desire: Broke his maiden going six and a half by breaking alertly and grinding out the win (94 Beyer) for Todd Pletcher. Jumped up to stakes company in the Nashua but broke slowly and was green in the stretch when asked (76 Beyer). Needs to break better or he will up against it. Looking elsewhere. 

Picks 8-4-2-5 

Race 10 The Cigar Mile Handicap – Grade II 

One Mile on the Dirt For Three Year Olds and Upward 

  1. Coastal Mission: Jeff Runco brings this four year old from Charles Town where he has won six straight and eight of nine starts this year. His best performance was in the Russell Road Stakes two back where he earned a 98 Beyer. Lasix comes OFF. Early pace. Passing.
  2. Everso Mischievous: Earned a 98 Beyer in winning the Forty Niner last out for Brad Cox with a nice stalk and pounce trip. Dug in late to hold off Dr Ardito. Hasn’t been out of the exacta in six career starts. He’ll need to repeat that Forty Niner effort. Dangerous.
  3. Senor Buscador: Comes out of the Breeders’ Cup Classic where he was no factor – but he ran decently enough considering his trip (99 Beyer).  Two back in the Awesome Again came late to pick up the pieces to hit the board (95 Beyer).  He won the Ack Ack last year going the flat mile  – and was kept closer that day. Good chance for a hot pace in front of him to set him up in the stretch. Win candidate.
  4. Cascais: Chad Brown trainee ran a strong second coming off a year layoff against N1X company. He broke alertly and got right to the lead but couldn’t hold them all off (89 Beyer) in the stretch on a sloppy track.  Pace setter. Lasix comes OFF. Faces much tougher today.
  5. Dr Ardito: Came running late for second in the Forty Niner (97 Beyer) where he looked to have the momentum at the eighth pole but was a half-length short of Everso Mischievous. Consistent performer for Chad Brown hasn’t won a stakes in open company but is very consistent. Should get pace to run into today. Loves the Big A with five wins from seven starts and has never been out of the exacta. He’s a true miler with five wins at eight furlongs. The Pick.
  6. High Oak: Ran well in the Bold Ruler coming late for the place money (84 Beyer) but was no threat.  Mott has supplemented this colt into this race. Form has better in his last four races but he would need a big improvement to win today. If you squint you can see him earning a slice.  
  7. Three Technique: Exits the Breeders’ Cup Sprint where he trailed the field early and was no factor (95 Beyer). Two back he ran a strong third behind Zozos going the flat mile in the Ack Ack at Churchill (95 Beyer). Race flow was against him in the Ack Ask with a slow early pace.   His best performance this year was at Belmont in the seven furlong John Nerud where he exploded once space opened in the stretch (99 Beyer). Using.
  8. Offlay Cool: Comes in from Parx off a win where he toyed with the field leading the whole way (97 Beyer).  All four career wins are at a mile – albeit in two turn races. Will get a lot of early pace pressure today – let’s see if he holds up. Known him early.
  9. Castle Chaos: Is in good form and has been running well in optional claiming company. Last out he bested an N2X field (96 Beyer) where he stalked the leaders. Steps up to stakes company today.  He is tactical and has shown he can get to the wire. Lasix comes OFF. Live Longshot.
  10. Accretive: Finished third in the Forty Niner as he was caught by Dr Ardito at the wire (97 Beyer). Almost bested Cody’s Wish in the Vosburgh two back (96 Beyer). Faces other speedy ones, but has shown the ability to rate. Should sit behind the pace setters. Mixed feelings.
  11. Hoist the Gold: Has been primarily sprinting and enters here off a sixth place in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint where he was no match for the best sprinters in the land. So no shame there.  Has a stakes win was two back sprinting in the Grade II Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland (101 Beyer). Does he want the flat mile? Could win on his day. Don’t think this will be his day.
  12. Pipeline: Tried to take them all the way in the Woodward but was done early. Two back he tracked Gunite in the Forego but tired in the stretch (85 Beyer). Gets class relief today but he hasn’t won in eighteen months but that win was at the Big A going the one turn mile (104 Beyer). Seems like a long time ago. Moves to Cherie DeVaux’s barn from Chad Brown. Passing. 

Picks 5-3-7-2 

All Stakes Pick 4  R7: 3,7 R8: 2,5,6,7 R9: 2,4,8  R10: 3,5,7  Ticket Price $36 

Trivia Answer: The Cigar Mile Handicap was known as the NYRA Mile Handicap until 1997.