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The $300,000 Hill 'N' Dale Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) is the last Grade 1 race of the New York racing season. A field of 9 older horses went 1 mile around 1 turn of the Aqueduct main track on Saturday afternoon, with Monterey Jazz sent off as the slight 3-1 favorite over 5-1 Arson Squad and 6-1 Wanderin Boy.
Near the finish with Harlem Rocker on the inside and Tale of Ekati on the outside.
Winning trainer Barclay Tagg said, "The longer the inquiry goes, they usually don't change it. I could see it happening; (Harlem Rocker) took the lane away from us. Sometimes it happens for me, sometimes it happens for them. The (1 1/8 mile) Wood Memorial came up perfect for him, but I've said all along that this horse is a miler. But when you have a three-year-old with the Kentucky Derby, you have to try different things with them. They are only three years old once. He didn't shame himself in the Kentucky Derby (fourth). It's nice to start the year with a Grade 1 at Aqueduct and end it here with a Grade 1." Jockey Edgar Prado added, "That little check cost me a little momentum at the end. He only beat him by a nose. I think the stewards made the right decision."
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Harlem Rocker said, "(Tale of Ekati) didn't appear to really check and he had every opportunity to go by our horse. And, in my opinion, he was never going by. It's a tough call in a Grade 1. I'll talk to (owner Frank Stronach) and see if he wants to appeal the ruling."
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Tale of Ekati Prado 19.80 9.40 5.90 3 Harlem Rocker Coa 9.70 6.30 4 Bribon Maragh 7.10 Winning Time: 1:35.01 $2 Exacta (5-3) paid 142.50 $2 Trifecta (5-3-4) paid 1,213.00 $2 Superfecta (5-3-4-2) paid 8,866.00Results Chart
The race was marred by the breakdown of Wanderin Boy, shown here in the post parade, who raced third down the backstretch in contention but was pulled up on the turn by jockey John Velazquez and vanned off. It was found that he had fractured the sesamoids in his left front leg and he had to be euthanized. The Cigar Mile was his 24th career start and was scheduled to be his last. Trainer Nick Zito said, "The thing that is hard to swallow is that everyone was raving about how good he was doing. He just took a bad step. This is very sad for me. It's very hard. We monitor every single thing with all our horses. If we see something, we won't run. And no one saw anything coming with this guy. I have run thousands of horses in my career and I have not had many of these things happen. But that doesn't make this any easier. I'm going to miss him."
Photos courtesy of Nancy Rokos.
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