11/27/2010 9:54AM

Cerin scores 1,000th career win in Grade 3 All American

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Vassar Photography
Cigar Man gets up to win the Grade 3 All American under Juan Hernandez.

ALBANY, Calif. - Cigar Man won a head bob from Hot Chaco to take the Grade 3, $100,900 All American Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Friday to provide trainer Vladimir Cerin and jockey Juan Hernandez with milestone victories.

Cigar Man unleashed a late rally, outfinishing Hot Chaco, who caught pacesetting favorite Our Nautique inside the sixteenth pole in the 1 1/8-mile race. The victory was the first stakes win for the 5-year-old Drewman gelding and provided Cerin with his 1,000th training victory. It also marked the first U.S. stakes victory by the 18-year-old Hernandez.

“That was fun,” said Cerin of getting the milestone victory in a six-figure graded stakes. “It’s especially neat to get it with a horse like him. He tries hard every time.”

Our Nautique, seeking his third straight victory, set the pace while closely stalked by Slew the Man, who pulled within a head of him at the quarter pole. Our Nautique repelled the challenge, but Hot Chaco, last through the first six furlongs of the race, and Cigar Man were beginning to make their runs.

Hot Chaco edged in front of Our Nautique, but Cigar Man was charging down the middle of the track. Cigar Man pulled even with Hot Chaco two jumps before the wire and prevailed by a head, running the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.78, .24 of a second off Delightful Kiss’s track record. He paid $8.40.

“The trainer wanted me to take him back seven or eight lengths off the lead,” said Hernandez. “The horse wanted to run right from the gate but I took a hold and did the best I could. I knew I had a lot of horse and when I hit him left-handed he really responded.”

Owned by Ron Manzani and Russell Sarno, Cigar Man earned $60,000 to increase his career bankroll to $409,859 with his sixth win in 33 starts.