The Cigar Mile Handicap (Grade 1)- $750.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Inner Dirt
December 2, 2017
The Cigar Mile is the biggest race that is held during the month of December, with its brand new $750.000 purse, this is a $250.000 increase over purse from the last three years and over double what the first edition race ran for. It’s run at a mile, and naturally attracts several BC runners on an annual basis due to its perfect timing on the schedule. This will be the 14th running of the event, which could also be called the Grimley Mile due to the last three years. Grimley won the race in 2014 with Absolutely, in 2015 with West Northwest, and then last year with Blowin Smoke. The trainer now only regularly races a few horses, and Prince Absolutely would not quite be good enough to take the shot at extending the streak. So now, a new trainer gets a chance to experience Cigar glory for the first time, perhaps someone like Mb Stables, who does not have this trophy in his case quite yet. He’ll have three chances in this race, against nine others as the starting gate is full. (Well it was when I wrote the introduction, by the time I got to #3, it wasn’t!) Here’s the field!
#1- Moon Landing (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- The winner of the BC Sprint heads to AQU as the trainer is not wanting to rest on his laurels from the amazing weekend. Moon Landing has actually never run more then seven furlongs in his 32-race career, but there is no reason to think that will be a problem. Based on speed figures, he may actually be better at seven furlongs then he is at the six he won the BC Sprint at, and I was actually surprised when I initially noticed that he never had raced this distance before. He seems like a natural for it and is absolutely going to be a contender in this race.
#2- Edwin Drood (Sanny Village, ridden by J R Velazquez)- The two horses starting in the innermost positions have accumulated for over $5,000.000 in career earnings. Edwin Drood, however, has not needed as many races to reach an amount just shy of $2,500.000. He’s one several big races over his career, but I would be interested in knowing which win Sanny considers the biggest of his career thus far. CT Classic, WV Derby, Fountain Of Youth, he’s been a star for a while now. Additionally, five of his last six, and eight of his last ten races haven earned triple digit SRF’s. While he usually goes a little longer on race day, this distance isn’t as foreign to him, as it is for Moon Landing. He is definitely one of the top choices, despite carrying five more pounds then most.
#3- Out On A Limb- Smokey Stover literally scratched this horse just as I was about to write about him!
#4- Friends Of A Feather (Royalty Racing, ridden by R Bejarano)- The colt by Chai Chicken was part of the BC festivities at DMR last month, and ran 8th in the BC Dirt Mile, after setting the early pace. He had an particularly impressive summer to get there, which included a five racing winning streak the culminated with the Grade 2 Obrien at DMR. Other then one race, where he earned a 101 SRF, Friends Of A Feather has been very consistent earning 94’s and 95’s. Those are good numbers, but will not win this race. Might need to dig down a little more to pull it out, but don’t rule that out.
#5- Clouseau (John Henry, ridden by J Rosario)- He’s been a part of the BC before, but you have to go back to 2016 to see where he ran in the BC Dirt Mile. He finished in the same position that year as did Friends Of A Feather in this year’s race. Clouseau did not appear to really chase the BC this year, as after some tough races in the spring, he settled into high allowance and optional claiming company. Resurfaced in graded races at the Durham Stakes (Grade 3) at WO, and finished 4th. He hasn’t seen rivals like this in a while.
#6- Mancini (Our Athletes, ridden by V Espinoza)- Showed promise at the beginning of the season in KYD prep races, but would never be a contender in the KYD or PRK. Following a second place run in the IND Derby, there were two more disappointing races that may have had us wonder if his best days were behind them. Then, in the BC Dirt Mile, he impressively became rejuvenated and ran third in that race. Now, it is most important for him to string two good races together, or else we’re going to start seeing him as an inconsistent horse.
#7- Silver Dancer (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- The five year old gelding has taken a while to become a star, but what a fantastic season he has had, with over $1,100.000 in earnings, making up most his overall earnings. This is his 40th overall start. In June, a huge win in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at BEL would punch his ticket to the BC Classic. He’s the only one in this field who ran in that particular BC race, though he was never a contender this race. His chances are a lot better here.
#8- In Captivity (Mb Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- The second of the three entries in the race for the trainer. Though he does not have the accolades of Moon Landing, it’s been a great year as he has scored four wins in eight starts this year while only once failing to be part of the exacta in that stretch. He also raced at DMR during BC weekend, but did so in the $200.000 Damascus, which was yet another win earned by the trainer. He is stepping up, but can handle it, and is one to keep an eye on next year.
#9- Apocazeus (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by D Moran)- The five year old looks for his 8th win as he comes off a career high SRF of 102 after winning the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at BEL at the end of October. He does have something in common with Moon Landing, and perhaps that is appropriate for a foal by Zeus. Apocazeus has never raced more then seven furlongs in his career, but his runs at seven create loads of optimism for him to succeed at it. Given the choice between the two, though, I’d take the BC winner.
#10- Track Bound (Luz International, ridden by C J Lanerie)- Spent most of this season running in claimers around the $20.000 level for M.b.o. Racing Stable, and no one putting in a claim despite some good finishes. Luz International noticed him in October, paid $20.000 for him in private sales, stopped administering lasix, and picked up an allowance win. He is entered here off of that, and that will make it a tough assignment. There’s talent here, but particularly in his races for M.b.o, he was racing with a weight advantage. Things were even with the allowance, but he was not facing BC runners.
#11- Enshrined (Mb Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- With BC runners on both sides of his pedigree, Enshrined always seemed destined for success and he has gone on to have a fantastic career, accumulating just over $1,000.000 in earnings. Most of that came in his three year old season, a year that culminated with BC Classic participation. This year, he only has an allowance to show for it, and a recent race at BEL, where he ran 6th at the Bold Runner, which was won by Apocazeus, and that’s enough for me to keep from making him one of my picks.
#12- Red Matic (Witeout Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- On the far outside, we also have a runner from the BC last month as Red Matic participated in the BC Sprint. He was never a contender, and that can be a concern when this race also features the winner of that race (and that one starting on the rail while he’s out here, to boot). The highlight of his season was a win at the Jerkens Memorial in August at SAR, and he ran well in the Vosburg, also a Grade 1, right after that. All he really needs to do is show the BC was a fluke, but starting from this post makes that tougher. I like him at this distance though, wish he had a better post.