A field of 11 quality horses will line up this Saturday at Aqueduct for the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1). The Cigar Mile will serve as one of five stakes events on the card and is set to go off as race 10 with a post time of 4:16 PM ET. The contest is the last Grade 1 race of the season for open company.
Headlining the race is the Jason Servis-trained Maximum Security, who is coming into this event with back-to-back wins in the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park and the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct. Maximum Security is best known for being disqualified from first to 17th in the Kentucky Derby (G1). However, a win in this spot could lock up his Eclipse Award for 3-Year-Old Horse of the Year. He’ll break from post 5 for this event.
Looking to derail Maximum Security’s chances will be fellow sophomore Spun to Run. He comes into this race off of a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), where he upset the heavily-backed Omaha Beach. Overall, he has won five of eight races this season, including the Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) and the M.P. Ballezi Appreciation Mile Stakes, both at Parx. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., will retain the mount from post 6.
Another horse coming off of a strong Breeders’ Cup effort is Whitmore, who was third in the Sprint (G1) to Mitole and Shancelot. This will be his third start off of the layoff, having run a close second in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2) two back at Keeneland. The classiest and most experienced horse in the field, he will break from the rail.
The full field from the rail out: Whitmore, Bal Harbour, Forewarned, Pat On the Back, Maximum Security, Spun to Run, Nicodemus, Network Effect, Looking At Bikinis, Tale of Silence, and True Timber.
#5 Maximum Security – Can he do what no 3-year-old male has been able to do all season long and string together three straight solid wins? If he can, then he will be the year’s 3-year-old champion. On paper, he should handle this field and excel at this distance, and he seems to be heading into the contest in top form. We know how these 3-year-olds have been, though, which is the scariest thing about backing him in this spot.
Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers
#1 Whitmore – All this horse does is consistently run well in big races. He was a respectable third in the 6-furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and also has a 7-furlong Grade 1 win on his resume. His biggest question mark is whether or not he can handle stretching out to a mile, but there is no doubt that he can run with this type of class.
#6 Spun to Run – A big-time win last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) has him coming in hot for this event. He won that by multiple lengths in a dominating effort, but can he put together back-to-back huge efforts against top company? That will be his major question mark, but this race being at a mile is a huge bonus.
#9 Looking At Bikinis – After trying his hand at tougher and longer races over the summer, trainer Chad Brown cut him back in distance and class last time out, which resulted in a nice allowance win at Keeneland. That victory has him ready for stakes company again. The distances were a little long for him over the summer, but he looks ready to roll going a mile.
#2 Bal Harbour – He is winless in six starts this season, but he hit the board in five of those efforts. In fact, he comes into this race with five straight on-the-board finishes, which shows the type of consistency that we’ve seen from him this year. With a similar effort, he can hit the board again at what should be a solid price.
#8 Network Effect – This time last year, he finished second in the Remsen Stakes (G2) to Maximus Mischief, which made him a Kentucky Derby contender. An injury coming out of the race forced him to miss most of his 3-year-old season, though. His first start of the year finally came when winning a local allowance race on November 10. That effort gave Chad Brown the confidence to try him in this difficult spot.
#4 Pat On the Back – When this horse is at his best, he can be tough to beat. He’s won three of five races this year, including the Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park in September. He also won’t get as much play as some of the “big name” horses in this spot. With the right trip, he could be tough to handle when making his big move down the lane.
#3 Forewarned – This horse enters off of a win last time out at Mahoning Valley in the 1 1/4-mile Best of Ohio Endurance Stakes. That is a positive sign; however, this will be a significant jump up in class after facing state-breds.
#11 True Timber – This horse has been in some tough races this year and has a pair of thirds in four starts; however, he wasn’t ever close to winning. This race should be more of the same.
#7 Nicodemus – Since moving up to face stakes company in April, this horse picked up a win in the Westchester Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. He finished fourth in each of his last two starts, so he might lack what it takes to win a race of this caliber.
#10 Tale of Silence – He’s winless in six starts this season. It’s hard imagining him picking up his first win of the season against a field as tough as what he will face here.
The lucrative Cigar Mile card also features the $250,000 Remsen (G2) for 2-year-olds, the $250,000 Demoiselle (G2) for 2-year-old fillies, the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (G3) for older fillies and mares, as well as the rescheduled $150,000 Winter Memories for sophomore fillies and the $125,000 Autumn Days for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.