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Cigar Mile Preview: Connect Cuts Back

Sept. 24, 2016, Bensalem, PA: Connect, Javier Castellano up, wins the grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. photo © Joan Fairman Kanes

Trainer Todd Pletcher will shoot for a record-extending fifth victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile  when he saddles the formidable Anchor Down to lead a spirited field of 10 in the 28th edition of the prestigious race Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Cigar Mile, the cornerstone of the Aqueduct fall meet, will headline a stakes-packed day of racing at the Big A, also featuring the Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds, Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen for 2-year-old fillies, and the Grade 3, $250,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies.

Top Choice

#7 Connect – I’ve heard more than a few people suggest that the cut back in distance is a negative for Connect, but I’m not sure that is the case.  This is a horse that has won sprinting, and also has ran strong races at a mile and one sixteenth.  He has enough early speed to keep within range of the leaders, and just because he is by Curlin does not mean he won’t like a mile.  Lets not forget another Curlin horse, Palace Malice, ran a huge race at a mile when he won the Met Mile at Belmont Park.  Also, Curalina has excelled at races of shorter distance as well.  I think he’s sharp enough to be fine at this distance, and is definitely the now horse.  His race in the Pennsylvania Derby was as strong as any three year old ran all year except for the beast out west known as Arrogate.

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers

#1 Anchor Down – There is no doubt at a mile this horse is very deadly.  The key to the whole race will be the pace.  If Anchor Down can get to the front and have an easy lead he will be nearly impossible to run down.  If not…then it becomes a lot more wide open.  With Chad Brown having three in the race you would think his fastest horse on the front end, Threefiveindia, might be the one to challenge Anchor Down.  With Anchor Down’s draw of the rail the strategy will be simple:  Go to the front and see how far you can take them.

#9 Threefiveindia – I’d call this Chad Brown trainee a horse on the rise as he won in his debut for Chad, and has then went on to finish on the board in two graded stakes races after than win.  Even in defeat he ran strongly, and beat Economic Model last time out.  I certainly like all of Brown’s horses in this race, and would not be surprised if any of the three won.  Hopefully this entry can continue to rise up the rankings and run a big race in this spot.

#10 Divining Rod – Has come back strong in 2016 with two wins and a second place effort in his three starts on the year.  This horse always showed a bit of class, and now looks to be rounding into a pretty nice individual.  Last time out in the Grade 2 Fayette Noble Bird was allowed to have things his own way, which left Divining Rod with zero chance to run him down as he finished a distant second.  I don’t see that kind of set up happening for anyone in the race here so if Divining Rod can sit off the lead and pounce at the right time he might be running best in the end.

Exotic Plays

#5 Ocean Knight – Obviously this horse has a good amount of talent, but I suspect he also has his fair share of issues as he’s always on the shelf.  This year you can’t fault how he’s ran with two seconds and a third, and he was beaten by two very nice horses last time out.  However, he wasn’t really competitive with either one of those horses so that why he has landed in the “exotic plays” category.  Looks like a good horse to use underneath.

Party Crashers

#2 Economic Model – As a handicapper you have to be honest with yourself so I have no problem saying I’ve never been able to get much of a read on what this horse is going to do from race to race.  The good news is I definitely think a mile is the perfect distance for him, and having Chad Brown on his side is a great thing.  I wanted to put him in the “horses to use in multi race wagers” category, but then I remembered that every time I expect him to run a huge race he kind of disappoints.  We’ll see what he does here in this spot against what is the toughest field he’s seen yet.

Throw Outs

#8 War Story – Really?  Why keep running him in Grade 1 races?  This is a serviceable horse, but he’s in over his when running with these types of horses.  Needs class relief.

#3 Realm – Last time out he took control of the race early and never looked back as he scored a big time allowance win over this track.  However, this will be his first try against stakes company in this spot.  Might be in a little bit over his head.

#4 Mylute – Hard knocker is still running some decent races, but seems to be a bit shy on talent when it comes to competing against tougher competition.  Hard to see him making a big impact in this race.

#6 Tale of S’avall – Finally picked up a win last time out at Belmont Park in an allowance after going winless for over a year.  Believe he’s a decent enough horse, but continues to be spotted in races that are too tough for him.

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