10/31/2001 12:00AM

Affirmed Success will take another shot at Cigar Mile


ELMONT, N.Y. - As he has attempted to do in each of the past three years, Affirmed Success will try to rid a sour Breeders' Cup experience with a sweet cigar.

Affirmed Success, who finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Mile, will return to dirt in the Grade 1 $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24. It will be

the fourth consecutive year Affirmed Success has run in the Cigar, a race he won in 1999. In 1998, Affirmed Success finished second in the Cigar Mile and a year ago he finished third after enduring a troubled trip.

The Cigar Mile has always served as a consolation prize for Affirmed Success following disappointing results in the Breeders' Cup. Last Saturday's defeat by 12 lengths in the Mile was his worst finish since he ran 12th in the 1999 Sprint.

Schosberg said he knew Affirmed Success was in trouble Saturday when he was fifth after an opening quarter of 22.79 seconds and a half in 45.49.

"The way the race shaped up took him out of his game," Schosberg said. "He was never that effective from off the pace. He runs better when he's closer to the pace. When he came back, he couldn't blow out a match."

Schosberg said that Affirmed Success will run as an 8-year-old in 2002 but won't necessarily be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Mile. Instead, he will be pointed to races such as the General George Handicap, a seven-furlong dirt race at Laurel Park that he won in 2000, and the Poker Handicap, a mile turf race at Belmont that he won the last two years.

"We'll go in and pick spots along the way," Schosberg said. "If we're in the hunt at the end of the year, maybe we'll go for [the Breeders' Cup]. He's still a top seven-eighths horse on dirt, a mile horse on dirt. He came out of the race perfect. We had him out there today, he was bucking and squealing."

Left Bank also pointed to Cigar

Left Bank, beaten 2 1/2 lengths while finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, could make his next start in the Cigar Mile, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Pletcher said Left Bank came out of the Sprint in good order and was pleased with the colt's race.

"I thought he ran really well," Pletcher said. "He's a little better at seven-eighths. We were hoping the race would shape up differently. The speed didn't come back, yet he still only got beat 2 1/2 lengths."

Last year, Left Bank finished fifth in the Cigar after bobbling at the break.

Pletcher is also considering running Graeme Hall in the Cigar Mile. Graeme Hall won last Saturday's Stuyvesant Handicap and is also a candidate for the Queens County Handicap on Dec. 1.

Balto Star, who finished last in the Breeders' Cup Mile, is being considered for the Queens County as well as the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23.

"I don't know that we'd go if Tiznow shows up," Pletcher said of the Clark, a race the connections of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow have mentioned as a possibility. "He came back tearing the barn down."

Pletcher said Balto Star simply went too fast while setting the early pace in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Invisible Ink to rejoin Pletcher soon

Pletcher reported that Invisible Ink, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, has resumed training in Ocala, Fla., and will return to his Gulfstream Park barn on Nov. 18.

"So far everything looks good," Pletcher said. "He's basically started back jogging. At this point we have not discussed any specific goals other than having a good handicap horse. We'll play it by ear and see how he progresses."

Invisible Ink hasn't run since finishing fifth in the Belmont Stakes.

Dutrow holds strong hand

Whether he opts to go with Here's Zealous or Stalwart Member, trainer Richard Dutrow appears to have the edge in Friday's feature, a seven-furlong classified allowance race worth $54,000.

With John Velazquez named on both, only one will be permitted to run. Here's Zealous would be the main speed if he goes. A 4-year-old son of Dehere, Here's Zealous won his only start at Aqueduct, taking a preliminary allowance race on April 25, covering six furlongs in 1:09.45. In his last start at seven furlongs, Here's Zealous set a contested pace before being caught late by Silky Sweep, who came back to run second in last Saturday's Sport Page Handicap.

Should Dutrow go with Stalwart Member, he will be sending out a consistent 8-year-old gelding who likes the track and distance. Stalwart Member had a troubled trip when eighth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths in the Hudson Handicap on Oct. 21.

The main challengers in the field are Flaming West and Wicked Will. Flaming West makes his first start for Juan Serey, who claimed the 7-year-old son of Gone West from Bobby Frankel for $75,000 last time out.

Wicked Will defeated Macho Uno three starts back at Saratoga and was compromised by a slow pace when second to Valiant Halory at Belmont on Oct. 17. He should get a stalking trip under Robbie Davis from post 4.

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