OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Fields are shaping up for next week’s holiday stakes action at the Big A, anchored by the traditional Thanksgiving Day feature, the Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight on Thursday, November 24. Four graded stakes are on tap for Saturday, November 26, led by the centerpiece of the Aqueduct fall meet, the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile. On the Cigar Mile undercard, New York’s “Road to the Kentucky Derby” will get underway with the 103rd running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen, the first official New York prep for the 2017 “Run for the Roses” on May 6, as well as its sister race, the Grade 2, $300,000 Demoiselle and the Grade 3, $250,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24
Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight, handicap for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs:
Probable: All Star Red, Angry Moon, Ready for Rye, Spartiatis, Stallwalkin’ Dude, The Great War
Possible: Chief Lion, Green Gratto, Trouble Kid
$125,000 Gio Ponti, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the turf:
Probable: Catapult, Hunter O’Riley, Italian Charm, Pirellone, Strike Midnight, Toughest ‘Ombre
$100,000 Furlough, for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs:
Probable: Alice B Winkle, Come Dancing, Star Studded, Whistle Stop, Woundwithhereyes, Yorkiepoo Princess
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25
$125,000 Winter Memories, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf:
Probable: Danilovna, Free N Clear, Gioia Stella, Grey Stark, Insta Erma, Koala Queen, Miss Nancy, Outsider Art
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26
Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile, handicap for 3-year-olds and up at one mile:
Probable: Anchor Down, Connect, Economic Model, Ocean Knight, Realm, Tale of S’avall, War Story
Possible: Divining Rod, Threefiveindia
Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen, for 2-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles:
Probable: Hookup, Mo Town, Newman, No Dozing, Takaful, Tale of Silence, Win With Pride, You’re to Blame
Possible: Lead Astray
Grade 2, $300,000 Demoiselle, for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles:
Probable: Jamyson ‘N Ginger, Ladies Day, Libby’s Tail, Majestic Bonnie, Miss Sky Warrior
Possible: Bonita Bianca, Eloquent Riddle, Spirituality
Grade 3, $250,000 Comely, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles:
Probable: Big Mara, Flora Dora, Going for Broke, Lewis Bay, Unbridled Mo, Verve’s Tale
Possible: Always on My Mind, Mo d’Amour, Tale for Ruby
Mo Town fires bullet ahead of G2 Remsen bid
Trainer Tony Dutrow is “very, very happy” with likely Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen favorite Mo Town, after his star 2-year-old turned in a bullet breeze over Belmont Park’s main track Saturday morning as he prepares to make his much-anticipated stakes debut on next weekend’s Cigar Mile Day.
A bay colt by Uncle Mo, Mo Town worked a sharp five-furlongs in 59 2/5 seconds under his regular exercise rider Carlos Martinez, the fastest of eight at the distance. NYRA clockers caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5.
“Ideally, in a perfect world, I’d have liked to see him go about a minute and gallop out in about [1:13], but the track’s been fast,” said Dutrow. “But the horse did it very well within himself. He came back good and scoped good. We’ve got to be very, very happy with that. I think we’re very close to being exactly where we want to be.”
Mo Town, owned in partnership by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Dutrow’s Team D Stable, was tabbed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Grade 2 Nashua on November 4 but was scratched the morning of the race due to a sore gluteal muscle in his hind end.
“It was a minor issue, but it was there,” Dutrow said. “And we can see a difference in the horse [now] having addressed that. Looking back, it took a lot of patience to scratch him that day but we all believed it was the right thing to do, and having done it all, I feel very good that we made that decision.”
A $200,000 yearling purchase, Mo Town finished a promising second in his debut at Saratoga Race Course in August. He turned heads with his successful follow-up four weeks later, where he drew clear to a seven-length victory on the mud on September 24 at Belmont Park, after which Coolmore’s connections purchased a 75% interest in the colt.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who rode the horse in his maiden win, will have the mount aboard Mo Town in the Remsen, Dutrow confirmed.
Tagg prepares to double up in G1 Cigar Mile
Trainer Barclay Tagg reported that both of his expected entries in the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile are training well. Realm, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Tagg, Eric Dattner and Harry Astarita, is slated to make his first career stakes appearance after going 2-2-2 in his first eight career starts.
“He’s doing well; he’s a good mover and he’s gotten better and better,” Tagg said. “His numbers are OK, so I figured we’d take a shot at it. Hopefully the Cigar Mile doesn’t come up as tough as it does sometimes.”
Realm won at one mile last out against allowance company on November 5 at Aqueduct. After posting a 5 ¼-length score in the race going a mile, Tagg said he is looking forward to running him back at the Big A.
“His last two races were very good,” Tagg said. “He’s familiar with the track. It’s a little quick to run him back, but he’s doing so well, we figured we’d take a shot.”
Jockey Paco Lopez is expected to have the mount.
Tale of S’avall will return to stakes company in the Cigar Mile after winning an allowance race last out on October 10 at Belmont Park. The 3-year-old colt breezed Thursday at Belmont, going five furlongs in 58.80 seconds on the main track.
Tale of S’avall will be making his fourth career Grade 1 start after finishing off the board in the 2015 Champagne, the Wood Memorial and the Ketel One King’s Bishop on August 27 at Saratoga, which was his last graded stakes start.
“The owner [Charles Fipke] wanted to put him in there and take a shot, so he’ll definitely go,” Tagg said. “He’s doing well. I couldn’t be happier [with his training].”
Manny Franco is slated to ride the Tale of Ekati colt.
Tale of Silence, a 2-year-old also owned and bred by Fipke, will make his stakes debut in the Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen on November 24.
The juvenile son of Tale of the Cat breezed five furlongs in 1:01.65 on Monday on Belmont’s main track. He will now be running at 1 1/8 miles in the Remsen in his fourth career start, and first at Aqueduct. Jose Lezcano will have the call.
“He doesn’t seem to have any distance limitations,” Tagg said. “He’s strong, athletic and his wind is good. I’ve never seen any sign that he can’t go the distance. He had a great work, and we’re very happy with it.”
Brown readies his holiday stakes contingent
Chad Brown sent talented 3-year-old trainee Connect over the Belmont main track Saturday morning in preparation for a start in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile next weekend.
Coming off a half-length win in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on September 24, the son of Curlin completed five furlongs in 1:00.20, with the last three-eighths going in 36 seconds flat, according to NYRA clockers.
“He went excellent,” said Brown. “The horse has been working exceptionally well. He’s a very talented horse and he’s in great form right now.”
Connect broke his maiden in his second career start going 6 ½ furlongs at Belmont in May and went on to stretch out at routing distances to pick up three wins form his next four starts, and Brown foresees no issue cutting back to mile in the Cigar.
“He’s fine to cut back,” added Brown. “He won on Belmont Day in an allowance race going one turn and he looked good doing it, so I don’t think the move to one turn will bother him.”
Other stakes hopefuls hitting the Belmont main track for Brown on Saturday included Klaravich Stable’s Economic Model, also pointed for a start in the Cigar Mile. Most recently coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont on October 29, the 3-year-old Flatter colt worked in company with G2 Remsen hopeful You’re to Blame, covering five furlongs in 1:00.50.
“They worked great together,” said Brown. “They did very well.”
Also under consideration for Brown in the Cigar Mile is Threefiveindia for Amerman Racing. A graded stakes-placed 3-year-old who has two wins from four starts this year, he most recently finished second in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, two lengths ahead of Economic Model in third.
Working in company with recent 3-year-old maiden winner Tricked Up, the pair completed four furlongs in 48.69 seconds.
Rounding out Brown’s holiday stakes workers on Saturday were 3-year-old fillies Going for Broke and Lewis Bay, both pointing towards the G3 Comely. The pair went five furlongs in 1:01.05.