Las Vegas, NV - Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York will be a busy place in Saturday, November 30. The main event on the stacked card is the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap - a one mile test for horses three years old and upward for a purse of $500,000.
A strong field of 11 will line up in the Cigar Mile - race 8 on Aqueduct's busy Saturday card. Post time is 3:20 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all 11 entries for this Grade 1 stakes.
Groupie Doll - reigning Eclipse Award winner for Female Sprinter and defending runner-up by a nose in this race placed in all nine of her 2012 starts including wins in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes and the 2012 version of this race. She started 2013 with an OK third in the Grade 3 Gardenia at Ellis Park August 10 and then went on to win the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters September 9. She had an OK third in the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland October 5 but bounced back on the biggest stage last time out - a repeat win in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She has placed in her last 14 starts with eight wins. Groupie Doll goes against the boys again and leaves post 4 with regular rider Rajiv Maragh in the irons as the one to catch Saturday.
Goldencents - may have been the biggest disappointment of the Kentucky Derby with his seventeenth place finish as one of the favorites but he has really upped his game lately - a win last time out in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile punctuated a pretty good run of late. Although he was a pedestrian fifth in the Preakness, he bounced back with three straight second place finishes ahead of the Breeders' Cup - in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship October 5, in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien and before that in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby behind Points Offthebench at Del Mar July 28. Before the Kentucky Derby he had three wins in four starts including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April, the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot and Sham Stakes. Goldencents has three wins and three thirds in nine starts this year and is the 120 pound highweight departing from post 8 with Rafael Bejarano aboard.
Private Zone - Canadian bred Doug O'Neill entry had a string of four straight second place finishes including the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood, the Grade 1 Malibu and the Grade 2 Palos Verses in January end with a ninth in the Grade 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in March. He has since won two races - the minor Pirate's Bounty Stakes at Del Mar September 4 and the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park September 28. Last time out however was a disappointing tenth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Private Zone will be ridden from the outside by Martin Pedroza under 118 pounds.
Verrazano - has two bad starts with both on the biggest stage - a fourteenth place finish as one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby and in the Grade 1 Travers August 24 but finished a respectable fourth last time out in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. He did bounce back after the Derby with a win in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth June 16 and followed that with another terrific win - in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational July 28 also at Monmouth. He has won six of nine career starts including an impressive score with 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby March 9 and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 6 in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby. He is used to dominating and will be looking to get back to his familiar form this Saturday. Verrazano has been less than spectacular lately and looks overdue for a big run. He drew post 10 under Javier Castellano carrying 117.
Capo Bastone - Todd Pletcher colt was a distant ninth in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes March 23 after an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Gulfstream February 16 and a respectable third behind Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November. He has been mostly inconsistent this year - a nice second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial Stakes behind Forty Tales April 27 at Churchill Downs, a seventh in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont June 8, a win in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga August 24 and an ugly last place finish last time out in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. He has three wins, a second and two thirds in 10 career starts. Capo Bastone will have Irad Ortiz in the saddle from post 6.
Forty Tales - Todd Pletcher pupil started two-for-two in his career and then was a disappointing fifth in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream March 2. He then posted three straight terrific wins - in the Grade 3 Derby Trial by a neck over Capo Bastone April 27, the Grade 2 Woody Stephens over Declan's Warrior by three quarters of a length June 8 at Belmont Park and in the Grade 2 Amsterdam July 28. He went on to a pair of fourths - in the Grade 1 Vosburgh September 28 and in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga August 24. Last time out was a second in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler October 26 at Belmont Park. He has won five of 10 career starts (three straight graded stakes starts) and will be looking to get back to his winning form Saturday. Forty Tales departs from post 2 under Joel Rosario.
Flat Out - has eight starts this year with two wins, a second and two third place finishes. His wins came in the Grade 1 Met Mile in May and the Grade 2 Suburban in September during a streak of five straight on the board finishes in graded stakes action. Last time out was a disappointing eighth in the Breeders' Cup Classic after a third in that race last year. Flat Out has placed in nine of his last 12 starts and five straight before his last start with two wins for legendary trainer Bill Mott and will be looking to avenge an ugly Breeders' Cup performance. Regular rider Junior Alvarado will be aboard from post 9.
Laugh Track - Mark Casse trained gelding has placed in nine of 10 career starts and is coming off great second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after a second in the Grade 3 Ogden Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland October 4 and a nice win in the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes at Woodbine in June. He has four wins, four seconds and a third place finish and could be a sneaky entry this weekend.
Clearly Now - Canadian Invader has 10 career starts and seven starts in 2013 and has placed in all - a great win last time out in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler October 26, a second in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx September 2, a second in the minor Charlie Barley Stakes at Woodbine July 6, and an impressive win in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream March 2. Clearly Now has been in the money every time out and is yet another quality entry for the Cigar Mile.
Praetereo - is coming off an Allowance Optional Claiming score here November 8 after a third in the minor I'm a Banker Stakes at Belmont Park in October and a second in the Duck Dance Stakes October 6. He also had a sixth in the Grade 2 Kelso September 28. He had concentrated on Allowance Optional Claiming races before his last four starts for trainer David Jacobson with a win July 7, a second here and a pair of thirds. Praetereo has just five wins, three seconds and seven third place finishes in 28 career starts.
Saratoga Snacks - has placed in all 10 career starts - seven wins, two seconds and a third place finish. Last time out was a nice win in the minor Empire Classic at Belmont Park October 19 after a third in the minor John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga August 1 and another couple of minor stakes scores - the Shy Groom June 30 and the Alex Robb Stakes in December here. Saratoga Snack makes his graded stakes debut Saturday but looks ready for his step up in competition.