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Nine quality horses have entered this Saturday’s $250,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct, New York’s last Grade 1 race of 2020. The Cigar Mile will serve as one of four stakes events on the card and is set to go off as race 10 with a post time of 4:16 PM ET.
Headlining this year’s field is Firenze Fire, who will stretch out in distance a bit for this contest. He has shown his best races at 6 and 7 furlongs, but this one-turn mile should still be within his range. He won the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park 2 races back before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). He’ll break from post 4 with Jose Lezcano aboard
The mystery horse is King Guillermo, who has not been seen since finishing second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) way back in May. He was slated to start in the Kentucky Derby (G1) until an injury forced him to miss the event. He’s finally ready to return to the races and will have Jose Ortiz aboard, breaking from gate 6.
Shug McGaughey’s Performer like a prime contender after 5 straight powerful victories in a row. Injury issues have been a problem throughout his career and he’s only raced once this year, defeating allowance horses by 1 3/4 lengths at this distance at Belmont Park. He’ll break from the rail in his first try against Grade 1 company with Joel Rosario aboard.
The full field from the rail out: Performer, Mind Control, Snapper Sinclair, Firenze Fire, Mr. Buff, King Guillermo, Majestic Dunhill, True Timber, and Bon Raison.
#1 Performer – Finally, this horse will get his shot at Grade 1 glory after beating up on lesser horses in his last 5 starts. His lone try against graded stakes company came over this track in the November 2019 Discovery Handicap (G3). Injuries forced him to miss almost the entire year, but he’s fit and ready to go in his second start back, so maybe he can make a little noise before we head into 2021.
#6 King Guillermo – Who knows what to expect from him after not racing since May. He showed a good amount of talent in his last 2 starts, though, and this seems like a pretty “easy” comeback spot, at least as far as Grade 1s go. His win 2 back in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) was fantastic, and he backed it up with a very strong second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) despite a tough trip. If he shows up ready, he has the talent to win.
#4 Firenze Fire – It’s been a while since we’ve seen him at this 1-mile distance, but he’s 3-for-6 when going this far. THe major concern is that he could be getting tired after running in much tougher spots all year. He is the class of the race, though, which certainly makes him a must-play.
#8 True Timber – He seems to be the classic “hit the board” type who is usually around at the end but never really threatens to win. That’s been the fashion throughout his career and we expect more of the same here.
#5 Mr. Buff – This horse is rock-solid against New York-bred company, but in graded stakes, he hasn’t been done the job. This race’s pace setup might work in his favor and give him an honest shot, but his ceiling might just be hitting the board.
#7 Majestic Dunhill – He’s looking to rebound after running last in the local Fall Highweight (G3) just this past Sunday. He won the Bold Ruler (G3) at Belmont Park 2 back, but the stretch out to a mile is a big question mark. Perhaps he rebounds with a better effort in this spot.
#2 Mind Control – It will take a major form reversal for him to have a shot in this spot. This 2-time Grade 1 winner has fallen backward in his last 4 starts after beginning 2020 well. A return to his favorite track might bring him back to life, though, and he might be worth a shot if he floats up in price.
#3 Snapper Sinclair – It seems like he’s better on turf, and while this isn’t the strongest Grade 1 on dirt, Snapper’s chances look a little bleak.
#9 Bon Raison – This guy’s had his moment over the years, so it’s not like he’s impossible here, but his inconsistency is concerning. Especially considering he’ll need a top effort to win.
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