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Owner Paul Pompa Jr. leads Connect to the winner's circle after the Cigar Mile.
The last Grade 1 of the New York racing season is the $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1), traditionally run on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This 1 mile trip around one turn of the Aqueduct main track often plays a role in deciding Eclipse Award champions in certain categories. Conditions were typical for late November, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 40's. Pennsylvania Derby (G2) winner Connect was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the field of 10. In to challenge him included 11-4 second choice Anchor Down, winner of the Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont, and 6-1 third choice Divining Rod, second in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland.
Down the stretch in the Cigar Mile with Connect taking the lead
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Connect Castellano 5.00 3.30 2.80 10 Divining Rod Centeno 5.10 4.90 3 Realm Lopez 7.00 Winning Time: 1:35.34 $2 Exacta 7-10 25.80 $2 Trifecta 7-10-3 218.50 $2 Superfecta 7-10-3-8 2,632.00Results Chart
Left: Connect poses in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "It was an exciting race and this is such a nice horse. Javier really rode him good. He had to move a little earlier than he wanted and he got a bit of a wide trip, but he knew how to time it just right. Then he got in a battle with a real classy horse (Divining Rod) there on the inside, and luckily, we came out on top in the photo. I'm real proud of this horse. He hadn't run since the Pennsylvania Derby, so we freshened him a little and there is always a bit of a risk doing that. He could be a little short. But he had just enough today and got it done at a mile."
Right: Connect heads back to the barn after the race. Brown added, "I was a little concerned because this horse hadn't had a race under his belt since the Pennsylvania Derby, but I know how much heart he has and how competitive he is. He really showed a lot of heart today. It's very rewarding to have a horse who shows you so much, especially as he was an unrated 2-year-old. Beating older horses in a race like this is a very high mark on his resume."
Left: Connect walks over before the race. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "We had a good trip and that's all I was looking for today. The way it set up was perfect. There was a lot of speed in the race. They went pretty quick and started backing up and every time I asked him, he responded every step of the way. I liked the way he finished. He's a good horse. He fought back. I'm so proud of the way he did it today."
Right: Connect in the post parade. Castellano added, "You don't have much to think about (in a stretch duel). You ride and focus and try to motivate your horse. That's what I did."
Left: Second place finisher Divining Rod heads out for the post parade. Trainer Arnaud Delacour said, "I thought that was a great stretch from both horses. I think Connect is a great horse, so I'm thrilled. I don't really think anything could have made a difference. I think everything went pretty much our way. We had good position, we started at the same time as Connect. We fought all the way down the stretch. I don't see any excuse. We'll have to regroup and see where we go next."
Right: Third place finisher Realm returns after the race. The Barclay Tagg trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 9 starts, earning $186,455 for owners Eric Dattner, Barclay Tagg, and Harry Astarita.
The fillies break from the gate for the Comely
Jockey Joel Rosario sent 13-1 Mo d'Amour to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.93 and 48.47 while pressed by Lewis Bay and stalked by 55-1 Big Mara. On the far turn Lewis Bay, 3 wide, moved up to gain the lead through 3/4 in 1:13.70 and opened up a 2 length advantage midstretch through 1 mile in 1:38.76. 20-1 Verve's Tale, 4th early, moved out 5 wide for room into the lane and closed well to win by a neck in 1:51.89. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to Going for Broke third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Verve's Tale Lopez 43.60 10.40 4.80 2 Lewis Bay Ortiz Jr. 2.50 2.10 4 Going for Broke Castellano 2.80 Winning Time: 1:51.89 $2 Exacta 1-2 101.00 $2 Trifecta 1-2-4 280.00 $2 Superfecta 1-2-4-5 1,080.00Results Chart
Left: Verve's Tale in the winner's circle with owner Charles Fipke at his head. Winning jockey Paco Lopez said, "I got carried wide on both turns. In the first turn, everybody came over and I waited, waited. Then I started picking up horses outside at the 3/8 pole. I didn't have much pace to run at. In the stretch, she gave me a lot. She's a very nice filly and she tried really hard today."
Right: Verve's Tale heads back to the barn. Winning trainer Barclay Tagg said, "I wasn't quite sure she was where she should be for these type of horses, but she was doing so well, I couldn't hold her down, so I put her in there. She loves to run. She's nice and sound. She's gone through all kinds of stuff, but she's been doing quite well. I wasn't afraid to bring her over."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Lewis Bay returns after the race. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 10 starts, earning $805,600 for owner-breeder Alpha Delta Stables LLC.
Right: Third place finisher Going for Broke in the paddock before the race. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 7 starts, earning $316,200 for owner-breeder Waterford Stables Inc.
Down the stretch in the Remsen Stakes
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Takaful to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.47, 48.84, and 1:14.02 while pressed by Mo Town and stalked by 40-1 Win With Pride. Entering the lane Takaful tired as Mo Town inherited the lead through 1 mile in 1:38.87. Kept to task by John Velazquez, Mo Town drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over late-running No Dozing in 1:51.58. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to favorite Takaful third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 8 Mo Town Velazquez 10.40 5.50 2.80 9 No Dozing Centeno 5.30 2.90 4 Takaful Ortiz 2.20 Winning Time: 1:51.58 $2 Exacta 8-9 45.00 $2 Trifecta 8-9-4 121.50 $2 Superfecta 8-9-4-6 1,374.00Results Chart
Left: Mo Town in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Tony Dutrow said, "Going back to March, we always felt this was a good horse. I felt strongly that he would run big today. For him to prove this much, I feel great. I wanted the horse fresh and happy going into his 3-year-old year. I didn't pressure this horse in getting him ready for today. I feel strongly that we have not seen what this horse is capable of yet. He's going to go Payson (Park, Florida) and he'll have a very light December; next to nothing. I'll talk to (the owners) about (the Gotham) and see how they feel."
Right: Mo Town heads returns after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "He was very good. He got carried wide into the first turn and after that I had to do the dirty job with the horse in front. After that, he did everything well. Hopefully he can come back better as a three-year-old."
Left: Second place finisher No Dozing walks over before the race. The Arnaud Delacour trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 0 thirds in 4 starts, earning $129,340 for owner-breeder Lael Stables (Roy and Gretchen Jackson).
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Takaful returns after the race. Jockey Jose Ortiz said, "He didn't stumble (at the break) but he was bit slow today. As soon as he broke, he ran. He wanted to go the first 3/16, the first 1/4, until I got him relaxed. Finally, on the backside, I did get him to relax. He tired a little bit but he's a great horse. He came from 6 1/2 to 1 1/8 in a short period." Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin added, "The break didn't help us and it looked like he was pretty keen the first 1/8 after the break, but he dug in and held on for third."
The start of the Demoiselle
Jockey Paco Lopez sent Miss Sky Warrior to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 23.65, 48.82, and 1:14.72 while pressed by Libby's Tail and stalked by 26-1 Spirituality. At the top of the stretch Miss Sky Warrior opened up on the field, with a 2 length advantage through 1 mile in 1:40.18. Jamyson 'n Ginger, 6th early, put in a strong late rally but Miss Sky Warrior easily held her off by 1/2 a length in 1:53.34. It was a long 6 3/4 lengths back to 7-1 Bonita Bianca third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Miss Sky Warrior Lopez 13.20 6.20 4.40 4 Jamyson 'n Ginger Ortiz Jr. 3.90 2.90 6 Bonita Bianca Rosario 4.40 Winning Time: 1:53.34 $2 Exacta 2-4 43.40 $2 Trifecta 2-4-6 179.00 $2 Superfecta 2-4-6-3 531.00Results Chart
Left: Miss Sky Warrior in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Kelly Breen said, "Two turns was key for her as opposed to the one-turn mile last time, where she had a right to get tired. After this, we're going to give her some R&R and hope to have her back at Gulfstream Park in February. She's a game filly. If I have a thought in the back of my head of trying to get her to the Kentucky Oaks, I'll start mapping it out. It would be great to go with a horse that's legit."
Right: Miss Sky Warrior returns after the race. Winning jockey Paco Lopez said, "When the gates opened it laid out a little different. I made the lead briefly going into the first turn and heading into the second 1/4 we were going a bit slow but I thought she was in a perfect position. I just waited. I knew she was a nice filly from when she ran at Belmont Park. Heading to the 1/16 pole I thought we could get to (Jamyson 'n Ginger). She's a nice filly."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Jamyson 'n Ginger returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "I got a perfect trip. She was coming back on short rest, she flew back from the Breeders' Cup and it might be a little quick for her. They're fillies and she's a little filly, but no excuses. She just got beat. She ran hard."
Right: Third place finisher Bonita Bianca in the paddock before the race. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee improved her record to 2 wins and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $216,000 for owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Michael Imperio.