11/29/2003 12:00AM

Congaree repeats in Cigar

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Congaree and Jerry Bailey fly home to win the Grade 1 Cigar Mile for the second straight year. The victory was Bailey's 70th in a stakes, a record, and third stakes score on the day.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Congaree remained the king of Queens on Saturday while Jerry Bailey remained the king of reins.

In another exceptional performance in a brilliant career, Congaree blew away his six rivals and won his second consecutive Grade 1 by 5 1/4 lengths before 5,459 at windblown Aqueduct. Midas Eyes finished second, three lengths ahead of Toccet, who was third.

Congaree, who won last year's Cigar by 5 1/2 lengths, is 4 for 4 at Aqueduct. He won the 2001 Wood Memorial and this year's Grade 1 Carter.

Meanwhile, the Cigar victory capped a stellar day for jockey Jerry Bailey, who also won the Demoiselle and Remsen - both Grade 2 stakes - and eclipsed Mike Smith's record for stakes wins (68) in one year, set in 1994. Bailey now has 70.

"It's not easy to do," said Bailey, who fell one stakes win short last year. "You get close and you realize how difficult it is to do. It's nice to do it and get it over with. It's a load off my back."

Bailey, 46, also set a record for earnings by a North American-based rider. Bailey's five mounts on Saturday earned $464,390, giving him $23,293,960 in 2003. Last year, Bailey's mounts earned a record $22,871,814. Bailey is a virtual lock to win his seventh Eclipse Award.

While Bailey felt he had good chances in the Demoiselle with Ashado and Remsen with Read the Footnotes, he felt he had a "tremendous edge" with Congaree in the Cigar Mile. "But, I felt like that before and came away empty," Bailey said.

At 124 pounds, Congaree was spotting 9 to 11 pounds to six rivals after Newfoundland scratched.

Well Fancied ran an opening quarter in 22.86 seconds, but was soon overtaken by Midas Eyes, with Congaree right off that one's flank.

Congaree and Midas Eyes raced together through six furlongs in 1:08.79 and were together turning for home. Congaree opened up inside the eighth pole. He covered the mile in 1:34.30 and returned $3.20 to win. Though Congaree won last year's Cigar Mile in faster time, 1:33.11, Bailey felt his performance this year was equally as strong.

"It wasn't the same glib type of track he ran over last year," said Bailey, who is now 5 for 7 on Congaree. "I thought it was at least a second or possibly two seconds slower than the racetrack he ran over last year."

Congaree, a 5-year-old son of Arazi, is now 12 for 23 and has earned $3.2 million for Bob and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable. He is likely to remain in training next year.

"Obviously, he has to be sound, but Jerry said to me he thinks he's better than he's ever been," said John Adger, the racing manager for Stonerside. "He told me to get him ready for that $6 million race [Dubai World Cup]."

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson