11/24/2012 4:53PM

Aqueduct: Stay Thirsty's thrilling Cigar Mile win completes giant day for Repole

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Barbara D. Livingston
Stay Thirsty, left, just gets up to take the Cigar Mile over the filly Groupie Doll.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Mike Repole’s self-proclaimed Breeders’ Cup weekend at Aqueduct couldn’t have gone any better, winning three graded stakes Saturday at Aqueduct, capped by a spine-tingling nose victory by Stay Thirsty over the filly Groupie Doll in the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile.

The win was the third consecutive graded stakes on the day - all in a one-hour span - for Repole and his fifth stakes victory over three days. On Saturday, Repole also won the Grade 2 Remsen with Overanalyze and the Grade 2 Demoiselle with Unlimited Budget. On Thursday, Repole won the Grade 3 Fall Highweight with Caixa Eletronica and on Friday he won the $80,000 Super Mario Stakes with Notacatbutallama.

Repole, 43, boycotted this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita because he didn’t like the fact 2-year-olds were not permitted to race on Lasix and he also is upset the Breeders’ Cup hasn’t been held in New York since 2005.

On three occasions Saturday, Repole was surrounded by dozens of family and friends in the Aqueduct winner’s circle that was filled to the brim.

“Aqueduct is not the prettiest place in the world, but it means a lot to me, means a lot to my friends, a lot to my family,” Repole said. “I grew up 10 minutes from here, to have a day like this . . .

“I told a lot of you guys this is the Repole Breeders’ Cup weekend, we won four graded stakes,” Repole added. “I don’t care how long I’m in racing, you’re not going to win three graded stakes in your life never mind three in a row with 2-year-olds and a horse like Stay Thirsty, who means so much to me, my family and my friends.”

Stay Thirsty’s nose victory denied Groupie Doll - the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner - her sixth straight victory and a win against males that might have put her in the discussion for Horse of the Year.

“That was never on our minds, we weren’t looking for that,” Buff Bradley, the trainer of Groupie Doll said. “This filly was ready to run, that’s why we brought her up here to run, I’m happy that we did. I don’t regret coming up here. I think we did the right thing, we had to take a shot.”

Groupie Doll was getting a perfect trip under Rajiv Maragh, sitting just behind the dueling leaders Buffum and Coil, who were head-and-head through a quarter run in 23.80 seconds, a half-mile in 47.04 and six furlongs in 1:11.11.

Groupie Doll wrested a short lead at the eighth pole and was doing her best to hold off Stay Thirsty, who got his nose on the wire at just the right time under Ramon Dominguez.

Coil finished third and was followed by Buffum and Hymn Book. Jersey Town, the 2010 Cigar Mile winner and Associate scratched due to ailments.

Stay Thirsty, a son of Bernardini, covered the mile in 1:35.47 and returned $7.50 as the second choice.

Todd Pletcher, who trained all three graded stakes winners for Repole, said he wanted Stay Thirsty to be forwardly paced in the Cigar Mile. But a slow start scrapped those plans and Stay Thirsty had to rally from fourth.

“The way it unfolded we were sitting behind those other three and it seemed to work out in the end,” Pletcher said. “I was a little concerned at the break; he didn’t jump away real well from the one hole.”

Dominguez said he wasn’t too worried about the slow start, since there was a contested pace. He was, however, worried about Groupie Doll.

“She was tough to get by, she never stopped,” said Dominguez, who won five races on his 36th birthday. “My horse was drifting in some the last part but he was full of run at the same time.”

The win was the only one this year for Stay Thirsty, who was beaten just a head in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It was his fifth win from 17 career starts and he earned $1,936,000. At 3, he won the Grade 1 Travers, Grade 2 Jim Dandy, and Grade 3 Gotham. He will stand stud at Ashford near Lexington, Ky.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Repole said. “Going out a winner, beating Groupie Doll _ who is going to win an Eclipse Award. The horse had some tough beats - the Jockey Club - this makes up for it, trust me it does.”