11/29/2014 5:41PM

Private Zone impossible to catch in Cigar Mile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Private Zone and jockey Martin Pedroza win the Grade 1 Cigar Mile by five lengths Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Jockey Martin Pedroza changed his normal prerace routine aboard Private Zone before Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct for two reasons. First, he wanted to make sure the gelding left the gate quickly from the rail. Second, well, the Southern California-based jockey was cold.

“I usually only jog this horse,” Pedroza said. “Today, I warmed him up good because it’s cold, and I want to make sure he left there running.”

At the end of a chilly late-fall afternoon at Aqueduct, before a crowd of 5,663, Private Zone certainly heated things up with a front-running tour de force in the Cigar Mile, taking command soon after the start and galloping away to a five-length victory.

Secret Circle, the 5-2 favorite, chased Private Zone around the track but had to settle for second, a neck over Bourbon Courage. He was followed by Big Business, Vyjack, Noble Moon, Regally Ready, Transparent, and Itsmyluckyday.

The win was the seventh in 25 starts for Private Zone, a 5-year-old Canadian-bred by Macho Uno. It was his third Grade 1 stakes victory in the U.S., all of them coming in New York. Private Zone won the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park in 2013 and again last month. Under the conditions of the Cigar Mile, Private Zone was running for the winner’s share of a $750,000 purse. He earned $450,000 for the win.

The victory also helped avenge a second-place finish in this race last year for Private Zone, who clipped heels with Clearly Now at the head of the stretch.

Aqueduct’s main track was favoring inside speed, and Private Zone had the rail and the most speed. He broke alertly and opened up a 1 1/2-length lead after a quarter-mile in 22.18 seconds and a half-mile in 44.18. While those fractions were fast for this track, trainer Alfredo Velazquez was not concerned.

“When I saw 44, I said, ‘They’re going to have come and get him,’ ” Velazquez said.

Private Zone had a two-length lead after six furlongs in 1:08.34, and despite running a relatively slow final quarter of 26:05, he extended his lead in the stretch. He ran a mile in 1:34.39 and returned $11.60 to win.

“Unbelievable,” Pedroza said. “I expected him to run good, but not that good.”

Joel Rosario said his mount, Secret Circle, stumbled at the break but quickly recovered. He was tracking Private Zone but said he had to ride his horse harder to get his position than Pedroza had to ride to maintain his.

“I thought the horse who won the race was in control the whole way,” Rosario said.

Hilton Gordon, the managing partner of Good Friends Stable, which owns Private Zone, said plans for the gelding are in flux. He said he would speak with Rene Douglas, the former rider who found the horse and put the partnership together, to decide what next to do with Private Zone.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll end up in Florida, either on a farm for a little bit or in light training,” Gordon said.

Bill Keating More than 1 year ago
The track bias really spoiled Aqueduct's big day. Did any horse pass any other horse in the stretch?
russell More than 1 year ago
When are people going to learn how to bet Grade 1 Mile races in NY? You almost ALWAYS bet the sprinter stretching out over the 2 turn horse cutting back in distance. ...And people mention Itsmyluckyday. Give me a break. He doesn't have the early speed that Private Zone has. Zone can go :43 and change.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Then, why are the last 4 out of 5 Met Mile and the last 3 of 4 Cigar Mile won by two-turn horses?
tommy More than 1 year ago
You are right. The only argument you can say was fixed in that transparent runs a mile in 1:33.00 at 120 lbs and now running at 114 lbs and runs 1:36 or more which is not fair to he bettors who bet the horse. Also itsmylucky day runs the mile at 1:34.00 still better than private zone in this race and the 2 best horses finish dead last??? I was alive in a 50 dollar daily double which is why they didn't want to pay me!! Aqueduct are thief's!! After trying to cash a winning ticket which was a trifecta with the 2 keep the light on, with the 12 with all hey didn't want to cash my ticket because it was folded!!! I had to wait 15 for the head manager to come down from up stairs and look in some book wih all official results and says o you won so we got to pay you!! Then they put it in a machine and they finally took it!! Aqueduct and Belmont fix races but if you win a fixed race they still pay you well where as in California they don't fix races but they fix the payouts because they steal more money then they should from the pools!!
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
First of all your logic is all crooked. What kind of a novice handicapper compares raw times ran in different race tracks. Then you failed to take into account Transparent's past performances in graded stakes races and Itsmyluckyday's in one-turn mile races. Private Zone ran 108 BSF last year and 110 this year - sounds fair to me, or did you think Andy Beyer was in on the fix?
Carl Cuminale More than 1 year ago
It was obvious with the way the track was playing that the 1 and 2 had the bias in their favor. Private Zone broke clean, Itsmyluckingday did not. Private Zone wins. The only possible fix would be in setting up the track for an inside speed bias. Highly unlikely.
russell More than 1 year ago
Anon you are a fool, a bad loser, and a bad handicapper. Private Zone was in form, he loves NY, he was second in this race last year. I'm sure Secret Circle wanted the lead but he stumbled out of the gate so Pedroza took the lead and never looked back. You want to call the track surface unfair, thats a different story.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Russell you don't know about race fixing!! Every other race was fixed today!! I was a fool because I didn't pick it up. Also I'm a fool because I loved the 2 horse and should have played him in a heavy daily double with ALL in the next race and say to aqueduct fix the race!! Because if they fix the race I will get a bigger payout
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Yes sir! That's why they took all the turf races off to the main track - according to the Race Fixing Council it is much harder to fix turf races. Amen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive never seen a more fixed horse race in my life than this one.
ianamex More than 1 year ago
Stay anonymous. .
robert bertz More than 1 year ago
There was a strong inside speed bias today at Aqueduct. The outcome was very logical. Only a complete fool would be unable to see this happening the was it did.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
Your and IDOIT....You want to point out some fixed race in a 15k Maiden Claimer....I will listen. But a G! race....you just sound so stupid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Friend, you had 3 spelling errors in your first three words. (You know the rest of the point).
tommy More than 1 year ago
You are right. The only argument you can say was fixed in that transparent runs a mile in 1:33.00 at 120 lbs and now running at 114 lbs and runs 1:36 or more which is not fair to he bettors who bet the horse. Also itsmylucky day runs the mile at 1:34.00 still better than private zone in this race and the 2 best horses finish dead last???
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
What kind of a novice handicapper compares raw times ran in different race tracks, not to mention different level of races?
Richard Kalahele More than 1 year ago
Tommy
russell More than 1 year ago
Congrats to Rene and Alfredo. Two great horsemen and better people. It's pretty clear this horse runs best in NY.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Loves it there, don't he?