OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Paul Pompa Jr.’s Connect exited his gutsy victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Racetrack in good shape, trainer Chad Brown reported from his Belmont Park base Sunday morning.
Brown said Connect, who picked up his second graded stakes win of the year by a hard-fought head over Divining Rod, will head to his trainer’s winter base at Palm Meadows Training Center next week, where his connections will plan out the Curlin colt’s 4-year-old campaign, which could include a bid in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup on January 28 at Gulfstream Park.
“I’m going to let him hang out here for a little bit and recover from that race, then take him down to Palm Meadows,” said Brown. “Obviously, we’re going to take a look at this Pegasus Cup but there’s no firm plans to participate at this point. I’ll get him to Florida, see how he’s training, and speak to Paul Pompa about it as the month of December goes on.”
Brown noted that the rest of his Cigar Mile Day contingent also returned well from their respective stakes assignments at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“So far, knock on wood, everyone has looked good this morning,” Brown said.
Grade 3 Comely runner-up Lewis Bay, owned by Alpha Delta Stables, will get a break this winter following seven starts during her sophomore season, said Brown, which included victories in the Grade 2 Gazelle in April and Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on October 29.
“She ran a really good race and she came out of it fine,” he said. “It was disappointing that she gave it up late when she looked like a clear winner but that’s what happened. She’s had a long year. We’ll give her a break now and point to next year.”
Brown added that Woodford Racing’s You’re to Blame is possible to remain in New York through the winter following his fifth-place finish in his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Remsen and return next year for his 3-year-old campaign.
“No real excuse [in the Remsen],” Brown said. “It was the first time he had some kickback and he kind of ran even. It looked like he was retreating at the three-eighths pole, then there he was at the wire and he got up for fifth. He just kind of ran in spots. He’s still a bit of a work in progress, but I do think that this horse has some talent. I’ll let him catch his breath some after this race; he’s done racing this year. Early next year, we’ll get him going again and, hopefully with some experience, he’ll improve.
“I’m thinking [he’ll stay in] New York but nothing is firm at this point,” he added. “I’ll speak to the ownership group, but he strikes me as a horse that could benefit from staying here over the winter.”
Mo Town ‘fantastic’ following G2 Remsen score
Grade 2 Remsen victor Mo Town has emerged from his winning stakes debut in fine fettle, said trainer Tony Dutrow on Sunday.
“He’s super,” Dutrow said. “I really don’t know how he could look much better, he looks fantastic. He ate everything. He’s pushy and a little on the arrogant side this morning, so we’ve got to be very happy.”
“I talked about before that I hadn’t seen this horse draw a deep breath and, even in the winner’s circle, I watched him and there wasn’t any type of cardio issue to talk about,” he noted. “He just walked in there and stood in there. [It’s] pretty amazing just how much cardio fitness this horse must have. I thought Mo Town was very, very professional, and pretty much a workman-type of effort for him.”
Armed with 10 points towards the 2017 Kentucky Derby following his impressive 2 ½-length win in the Remsen, the 2-year-old son of Uncle Mo will ship to South Florida on Wednesday to spend the winter with Dutrow’s string at Payson Park Training Center.
According to his trainer, Mo Town will likely be in “very light training” through December before gearing up for his sophomore campaign.
Dutrow added that Mo Town, owned in partnership by Coolmore’s Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Dutrow’s own Team D Stable, could make his sophomore debut in the Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A in March, worth 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points and the traditional prep race for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial the following month.
Verve’s Tale in good order after posting career-best speed figure
Trainer Barclay Tagg said Verve’s Tale came out of her stakes debut in good order following her win by a neck over Lewis Bay in Saturday’s Grade 3 Comely on Cigar Mile Day at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 3-year-old bay filly broke her maiden in her eighth race on October 16 at Keeneland and followed that up by notching a career-high 93 Beyer Speed Figure, defeating a seven-horse field to win the 67th running of the Comely at 1 1/8 miles.
“It’s the effort we were waiting for,” Tagg said from his Belmont Park stable on Sunday morning. “We’ll run her down in Florida now before coming back up here.”
Realm finished in the money in his first stakes start, coming in third in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile after a strong surge from the five-sixteenths pole. The 3-year-old gelding, who won against allowance company on November 5 at the Big A, handled the quick turnaround well against a steep step up in class.
“He had it tough because we ran him right back after three weeks, so to put him in a Grade 1 is a tall order,” Tagg said. “But he ran great.”
Tale of S’avall also came out of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile with no issues after posting a seventh-place finish.
“It was OK; I had an easier race picked out, but we decided to go with that one,” Tagg said. “It was just a little tough for him at this stage. We look forward to him getting better.”
Tagg said he will ship his contingent to Florida on Tuesday and will likely race them at least once before returning to New York.
“Even if I do freshen them, I like to get a race or two down there before we come up here, so they’ll be ready to go,” Tagg said.
Elate impressive for Mott in debut
Not to be left out on Cigar Mile Day, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott had two winners on Saturday’s action-packed card at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Mott, who conditioned the legendary Cigar through a 16-race win streak and Horse of the Year honors in 1995 and 1996, saddled juvenile filly Elate to an impressive debut victory in Race 4 for owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. Out of stakes winning dam Cheery, the Medaglia d’Oro-sired Elate bested a field of nine at a mile to win by 12 ½ lengths and pick up an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
“She ran a nice race,” said Mott. “She looked good this morning. The fact that she drew away the way she did and Jose [Ortiz] asked her to run a little bit through the stretch, she did everything she was supposed to do.”
Mott added that with some of his contingent already at his winter training base in Payson Park, Florida, he would keep all options on the table before making a final decision on where she will run next.
Two races earlier on the card, Mott visited the winner’s circle with 2-year-old New York-bred Heavy Meddle, breaking his maiden for owner-breeders Chester and Mary Broman. Making his fifth start and first on the turf, Heavy Meddle won by a head over the field of 12 at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
“That was nice,” said Mott. “He’s run a few times already so maybe we’ll give him some time off. He might get a bit of a vacation but it was good to see him win on the turf.”
Rodriguez G2 Demoiselle contingent in good shape after 2-3-4 finish
Rudy Rodriguez saw his trio of entrants – Jamyson ‘n Ginger, Bonita Bianca and Libby’s Tail, finish second, third and fourth, respectively in the Grade 2 Demoiselle on Saturday. Rodriguez said the three came out of the race fine after all registered at least one point for the 2017 Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
“It’s a little early to say, but looking at them today, so far, so good,” Rodriguez said on Sunday.
Jamyson ‘n Ginger, who ran three weeks after a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, finished in the money in a stakes race for the first time in her career. Rodriguez said he’ll talk to ownership group Magic Cap Stables about plans in the next few days.
“I think we’ll send her to Florida for a couple of months,” he said. “We’ll talk to the owners and go from there.”
Bonita Bianca, owned by Michael Dubb, Michael Imperio and Bethlehem Stables, finished third in her graded stakes debut.
“She ran good, I was surprised she got so far back, but she made up a lot of ground,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said there are no definitive plans yet, though he said Bonita Bianca and Libby’s Tail could stay in New York for the winter.
“Right now, we’ll let them regroup for a few days, and I’ll talk to the owners and go from there,” Rodriguez said.
Delacour pleased with Cigar Mile Day runners
Typically known for his runners on the Mid-Atlantic circuit and at Tampa Bay Downs in the winter, trainer Arnaud Delacour has become a noticeable contender on the NYRA circuit over the last year, having picked up back-to-back Grade 1’s this summer with A. P. Indian in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Belmont and the Forego at Saratoga Race Course.
On Saturday, Delacour saddled Divining Rod to a courageous runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, just missing to Connect after a lengthy battle down the stretch, as well as No Dozing, who finished a late-closing second in the Grade 2 Remsen.
“They both looked good this morning,” Delacour said by phone. “I thought Divining Rod may have run his best race yet and No Dozing ran well despite being wide, but that’s no one’s fault, it’s just the way the race unfolded.”
Going forward, Delacour said he will look to regroup with both runners.
“Unfortunately, the winter program is a little tougher on Divining Rod on opportunities of where he may run next that we’ll look into. But possible targets for No Dozing include the [Grade 3] Sam F. Davis and the [Grade 2] Tampa Bay Derby.”