11/27/2010 11:42AM

Cigar Mile Day


Feeling fresh, fit and dangerous returning from a 10-day horseplaying hiatus for today's Cigar Mile card at Aqueduct, a 10-race affair starting at noon, with the G2 Demoiselle, G2 Remsen, G1 Gazelle and G1 Cigar Mile slated to be run as races 6 through 9 starting at 2:15 pm ET.

The scratches of Light Your World from the Demoiselle and Economic Summit and Pants on Fire from the Remsen left both those races with five-horse fields (and just four betting interests in the Demoiselle.) There's a $33.042 pick-six carryover for a sequence that bookends the four stakes with a 2-year-old maiden turfer and an N2L $10k claiming sprint. The $250k guaranteed late pick-4 consists of the latter three stakes and the claiming sprint.

Today's national stakes action also incluues Churchill's version of the Remsen and Demoiselle, the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club and G2 Golden Rod, as part of its 12-race all-juvenile card. Hollywood's Turf Festival continues with the G2 Citation and the G3 Generous. Here's the holiday-weekend graded-stakes scoreboard with two days down and two to go:


[Chart updated with Saturday results.]

Last year, the Cigar Mile ended up deciding the champion sprinter Eclipse Award, as Kodiak Kowboy's victory moved him past Zensational in the voters' eyes while Vineyard Haven lost his shot a title finishing third. No such implications this year as Majesticperfection and Big Drama appear the primary Eclipse contenders off their 1-2 finish in the Vanderbilt and the latter's triumph in the BC Sprint. Vineyard Haven returns as part of a Godolphin coupled entry in the Cigar Mile along with Girolamo, who ran sixth as the 4.10-1 favorite in the Sprint.


1:45 pm: Thoughts on the late pick-4:

Overview: Going to be hard to get a skyrocket payoff in this sequence the way I see it. To Honor and Serve is a likely odds-on Remsen winner in the opening leg, and a finale rife with high-odds throwouts. The Gazelle and Cigar appear pretty open heats, and perhaps a mid-priced winner in both of those could make this a profitable sequence.

Remsen (race 7): To Honor and Serve benefitted from a slow pace and loose lead in the Nashua, but still looks much the best on paper. Buffum has unlimited upside with a fast debut victory at a mile but is no great bargain at 2-1 ML jumping to 9f in against winners in his second start. If the race falls apart, Mountain Town looks next best.

Gazelle (race 8): The experiment with moving this race from early Septemeber to Thanksgiving weekend didn't really work in terms of attracting Grade 1 fillies, but but it's a very competitive field. No Such Word is a legit favorite off three victories and a decent fourth to Blinkd Luck and Havre de Grace in her last four starts, and Awesome Maria is still lightly raced and improving. Quiet Temper offers value at 8-1 despite a layoff since June 26. Dubai Dancer and Seeking the Title are plausible upsetters, but I'm leaving out stretch-out closing sprinter Belle of the Hall at 4-1.

Cigar Mile (race 9): I'll play against the Godolphon entry of Girolamo and Vineyard Haven, both coming off dull Breeders' Cup efforts, in favor of Bribon, who does his best work at a mile, and Haynesfield and Musket Man, who were simply overmatched and going too far in the Classic.

Race 10: This non-winners-of-two lifetime for $10k claimers was carded as the finale because it looked like a big and open field, but there are plenty of hapless-looking one-for-lifers and seemingly only five plausible winners. I have a slight preference for Rotten to the Core, Winning Token and Muy Guapo over Merlin Bay and Kill the Joker.

Bonus: Favorite Thanksgiving-themed Movies: 1. Broadway Danny Rose; 2. The Ice Storm; 3. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version); 4. Pieces of April; 5. Trains, Planes and Automobiles. I've never seen "Home for the Holidays," which a lot of people seem to like. What am I leaving out?


2:10 pm: They're running about eight minutes behind scheduled post at Aqueduct, where the Demoiselle, carded for 2:14 pm, is now back to 2:22 pm.

Chalky start to the pick-6 (I passed) as favored Data Link ($7.00) won the maiden turf race for McGaughey/Solis.

Believe in A.P., fourth in the BC Juvenile Fillies, is 4-5 in the Demoiselle against Tempyed winner Full Moon Blues (5-2), the Evans-owned entry of Dixie City and Summer Laugh, and Tempsted runner-up Tap for Luck (9-2).


2:30 pm: Dixie City, a troubled third when trying to close in the Tempted, went to the lead today and easily cruised to a 3 1/4-length victory over favored Believe in A. P. The winner's time of 1:52.84 and final furlong of 14.10 do not appear formidable, but let's see what the clock says in the next two races -- the Demoiselle was the first of three straight nine-furlong events.

Dixie City, a Dixie Union-City Sister filly owned and bred by Ned Evans and trained by Tony Dutrow, paid $5.60 as the second choice.

The race may have provided some confirmation of the unusually slow nature of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, where Awesome Feather received a winning Beyer Speed Figure of 86, the lowest in the history of the race. Believe in A.P. was the first horse to run back out of the race and her flat second-place finish at even-money suggests the BCJF may well have been as slow as it looked.

Fifteen minutes to the Remsen. Here's the pick-4 play:


3:00 pm: 3-to-5 To Honor and Serve and 15-1 Mucho Macho Man ran 1-2 around the track in the five-horse Remsen while running almost three full seconds faster than the fillies in the Demoiselle:

Race 6: 24.20 48.19 1:12,82 1:38.74 1:52.84

Race 7: 24.35 47.65 1:11.18 1:36.61 1:50.03

To Honor and Serve, a colt from Bernardini's first crop who sold for $575k as a yearling to Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, has now won three straight since running second to Astrology in his debut. Astrology is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club later today.   

The last Remsen winners to go on to win the Kentucky Derby were Pleasant Colony (1980-81), Go For Gin (1993-94) and Thunder Gulch (1994-95). Bluegrass Cat, the 2005 Remsen winner, was second to Barbaro in the 2006 Derby.


3:30 pm: No Such Word ($5.60) ran away from Awesome Maria through the stretch to win her third straight stakes and first Grade 1 in the Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies.

No Such Word, a Brereton Jones homebred by Canadian Frontier, ran the nine furlongs in 1:51.05, 1.02 seconds slower than the Remsen, after much slower fractions. Here's how the three races stack up:

Race 6: 24.20 48.19 1:12,82 1:38.74 1:52.84

Race 7: 24.35 47.65 1:11.18 1:36.61 1:50.03

Race 8: 24.60 49.90 1:13.57 1:38.35 1:51.05

Musket Man opened as the 9-5 Cigar favorite but Bribon is the favorite in the double, pick-3 and grand-slam willpays.


4:00 pm: Maybe if I'd noticed that Jersey Town ($71.50) was produced by the outstanding racemare Jersey Girl, I coulda....nah, not even then. Congrats if you found a reason to like a horse whose last victoryin an allowance race at Emerald Downs.

Jersey Town, the lightweight in the field at 114 pounds (he carried 116 as Cornelio Velasquez was two pounds over) and the longest shot at 34-1, beat 4-1 Haynesfield (120) by a head with Girolamo third and Bribon fourth. The winner, a 4-year-old Speightstown colt, races for owner-breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Barclay Tagg, who were elevated to victory in the 2008 Cigar Mile with Tale of Ekati on the disqualification of Harlem Rocker.

With the previous four winners all paying $7 or less, seven of the eleven runners in the nightcap are covered in the pick-6, at payoffs ranging from $21k to $151k.


4:30 pm: Rotten to the Core ($8.20) reclaimed the lead late from 24-1 Seren Trippidy with 71-1 Pavlov's Dog a close third to finish off a $1,060 pick-4 and complete six winning pick-6 tickets at $25,332 apiece. Here's a weird one: The pick-3 on races 8-9-10 paid $1,013 -- only $47 less than the pick-4 with To Honor and Serve in the 7th.

Back to Jersey Gitl, the dame of Jersey Town, for a moment: The New Jersey-bred daughter of Belong To Me, owned by the Ackerley Brothers and trained by Todd Pletcher, won 9 of 11 career starts including a 7-for-7 3-year-old campaign in 1998 that included victories in the Acorn, Mother Goose and Test in her final three career starts. She lost the 3-year-old filly Eclipse to Banshee Breeze, who won that year's CCA Oaks, Alabama and Spinster and was second by a nose to Escena in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.