11/24/2007 3:15PM

Cigar Card


It's a cold and sunny Saturday afternoon in New York and the original plan was to enjoy it at Aqueduct, but there's just too much going on to pull me away from the home-office wagering command center: The $118k Aqueduct carryover with four stakes; the Stars of Tomorrow card at Churchill; a $143k carryover at Hollywood with a pair of G3 grass stakes; the DeFrancis Dash at Laurel. And if you still need a midnight snack after all that, there's the Japan Cup from Tokyo.

I'm alive after the first leg of the Aqueduct pick-six on a moderate 6x3x4x1x1x2 caveman play for $432 that singles Court Vision in the Remsen and Midnight Lute in the Cigar Mile. I intended to get more heavily involved, but I found the first leg utterly daunting, a statebred maiden sprint filled with chronic losers and firsters not taking a nickel of action. Forunately I used a couple of those seemingly dead firsters and 14-1 Regal Prince got it done.

It's been bombs away so far today at Aqueduct, with $86, $26 and $31.60 winners in races 2-4. Heading into race 5, three of the seven horses in the Discovery are uncovered in the pick four, and I don't remember ever seeing three 3-of-4 will-pays in a New York pick four. The pick-fours to the four covered horses are paying (for $2) $54k, $90k, $90k and $271k.

In any case, my ticket goes 2,3,7/2,3,5,7/1/2/1,4,5 the rest of the way. Here's what I thought about the quartet of upcoming stakes:

2:19 pm EST: Aqueduct race 5, G3 $100k Discovery H., 3yo, 1 1/8m
Went three deep with Buffalo Man, Helsinki and Now a Victor, and would have added Dr. V's Magic if I'd wanted to add one more. Buffalo Man won three stakes last winter and returned with a good second to C P West; Now a Victor and Helsinki ran 2nd and 4th in the a decent Pegasus and looked like the best pure speed and pure closer in the race.

2:49 pm EST: Aqueduct race 6, G2 $200k Demoiselle, 2F, 1 1/8m
Felt I had to use four of these six fillies to feel good about getting through the third leg. I was tempted to take a shot by leaning on Mushka, who may have the most raw talent and upside, but her two promising races were on turf and sealed slop. I also know I have to be careful not to fall in love with all the Empire Makers just because I liked him as a racehorse. So I also used Expect the End, Sunday Elegance and Elusive Lady.

3:19 pm EST: Aqueduct race 7, G2 $200k Remsen, 2yo, 1 1/8m
Court Vision circled the field to win the Iroquois at CD last time out and just looks better than these to me. I'm not sold on the second and third choices in the race: Big Truck has struggled against statebreds and Atoned got loose through soft fractions last time out. Springs Road is a little bit interesting at price -- while he's seemingly overmatched on figures, he's won his two starts easily and those behind him have come back to improve sharply.

3:49 pm: Aqueduct race 8, G1 $300k Cigar Mile, 3+, 1m
Midnight Lute may be the best horse in training this side of Curlin, and has been monstrous in his two starts since throat surgery, blowing away the fields in the Forego and BC Sprint. A one-turn mile looks perfect for him. Daaher is a very nice 3-year-old who figures to be a top handicap horse next year and will be dangerous even here if he gets loose, but Midnight Lute just seems capable of running down anyone right now.