2022 Cigar Mile Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

2022 Cigar Mile Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Saturday’s $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets at Aqueduct is typically one of the last Grade 1 races of the year for older horses. The Cigar Mile is the featured race on a four-stakes card at the Big A on the final weekend of the track’s fall meet. The day will also include the Grade 3 Go For Wand Handicap for fillies and mares, and a pair of juvenile features, with the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes hosting 2-year-old colts and geldings and the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes enlisting 2-year-old fillies.

In its history, the Cigar Mile has always been an important late-season race and it has had an impact on the Eclipse Awards on several occasions, whether it was in the champion older male, sprint, or 3-year-old divisions. The race was first held in 1988 when it was called the NYRA Mile. Forty Niner won the inaugural edition for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens. The race was subsequently renamed to honor the 1994 winner, Hall of Famer Cigar. Other notable winners through the years have included Quiet American (1990), Rubiano (1991), Congaree (2002, 2003), Discreet Cat (2006), Kodiak Kowboy (2009), Flat Out (2013), Tonalist (2015), and Maximum Security (2019). Americanrevolution won last year’s edition.

The 2022 renewal of the Cigar Mile drew a competitive field of horses looking to end the year on a high note – and one horse, Mind Control, will be looking to go out a winner in what will be the final start of his long and successful career.

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Read on for more information about the entrants in Saturday’s one-mile race for horses 3 years old and older. The Cigar Mile will be televised on FS2 during NYRA’s broadcast of “America’s Day at the Races” with a schedule post time of 3:43 p.m. ET. Check back after the race is drawn for an updated Cheat Sheet with post time information and with contenders listed in post-position order and with morning-line odds added.

1. Double Crown

Jockey: J. D. Acosta

Trainer: Norman Cash

Owners: Norman and Lola Cash

Career record: 24 starts – 6 wins – 8 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $548,265

Earnings per start: $22,844

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Pedigree: Bourbon Courage – Two Columbus, by Two Punch

Age: 5

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Double Crown is a 5-year-old gelding and a veteran of 24 career starts who is exiting the first graded stakes victory of his career last time out in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap on the same track and distance as Saturday’s Cigar Mile. His Kelso victory was accomplished at 42.25-1 odds and he won by 1 ¾ lengths over the favorite, Baby Yoda. Prior to the Kelso, Double Crown was knocking around small stakes races at tracks like Laurel Park, Pimlico, and Presque Isle Downs during 2022 with moderate degrees of success and had not won a stakes race since a pair of ungraded stakes scores at Gulfstream Park back in 2020. This hardly seems like the résumé of a Grade 1 winner. It is definitely nice to see a win like the Kelso in the top line of a horse’s past performances, but the old saying in horse racing goes that you should ‘be there for the wedding and not for the funeral.’ With horses like Zandon, Mind Control, Get Her Number, and O Besos thrown into the mix, it is difficult to envision Double Crown repeating his last-out win, and unlike last time, his believers will have to settle for something closer to 4-1 than to 40-1.

Bet Double Crown in the Cigar Mile

Zandon

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Jeff Drown

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,440,000

Earnings per start: $180,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Pedigree: Upstart – Memories Prevail, by Creative Cause

Age: 3

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Zandon won the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes last spring at Keeneland and subsequently finished third in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, and the sky truly looked like the limit for this 3-year-old at that point in the season. While Zandon did run second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, third in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes, and second in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby in the three races since then, it still feels like he has failed to live up to his lofty expectations as his 3-year-old campaign winds down. A win in Saturday’s Cigar Mile, however, certainly could go a long way in changing that perception. The “big win” has eluded Zandon since the Blue Grass, but he has still never finished off the board in his eight career starts and still could have his best racing ahead of him. Zandon is closer who could benefit from a faster pace in a one-turn mile race, as opposed to the slower paces he’s been unsuccessfully chasing lately in longer route races – or at least that’s what his connections will be hoping for as they shorten him up to a mile. Expect him to sit off the pace and to roll into contention at the top of the stretch. From there it’s just a question of whether the distance will give him enough real estate to work with to catch the front runners in a race that has failed to draw any speed burners to help set the race up for the late runners. Zandon competed in the Remsen Stakes on Cigar Mile Day in 2021 and finished second by a nose to eventual Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets winner Mo Donegal. The bottom line is that this is a Chad Brown-trained third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, so while Mind Control and Get Her Number may look better at the a one-turn mile distance, bettors will have to leave Zandon off their tickets at their own risk. Brown has two Cigar Mile wins to date, with Connect in 2016 and Patternrecognition in 2018.

Bet Zandon in the Cigar Mile

3. White Abarrio

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owners: C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable

Career record: 9 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $972,550

Earnings per start: $108,060

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Pedigree: Race Day – Catching Diamonds, by Into Mischief

Age: 3

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After reeling off back-to-back wins at Gulfstream Park earlier this year in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes and the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa, White Abarrio disappointed with a 16th-place no-show in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, and since then he has not been able to recapture the promise he had early in the season. He squandered a great post-Derby rebound opportunity when he settled for second by length to Tawny Port in the Ohio Derby at Thistledown on June 25. Despite the loss, White Abarrio earned a career-high 106 Equibase Speed Figure in the Ohio Derby and seemed primed to make another step forward to rejoin the top echelon of 3-year-olds in in the Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 23, but that also didn’t materialize when White Abarrio threw in an even bigger clunker than he did in the Derby, finishing seventh of eight and struggling to even cross the finish line. His last race was a fifth-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 24, and now he’ll be facing older horses for the first time ever in the Cigar Mile. From a pace standpoint, he projects to be a deep closer at this distance around one turn, meaning that his only shot at pulling the upset hinges on a blazing fast pace that cooks all the front runners. Based on the horses entered, that seems unlikely to happen. Perhaps it’s notable from a handicapping perspective that White Abarrio is 4-for-4 in the win column at Gulfstream Park, but he is winless in five attempts everywhere else. 

Bet White Abarrio in the Cigar Mile

4. Get Her Number

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Peter Miller

Owner: Gary Barber

Career record: 14 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $550,661

Earnings per start: $39,332

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Dialed In – Fancier, by Bernstein

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Get Her Number ships all the way over from the West Coast-based barn of Peter Miller for this start in the Cigar Mile after serving notice last time that he’ll be a horse to be reckoned with. Get Her Number’s allowance win last out at Del Mar was earned against a graded stakes-caliber field that included Ginobili and Forbidden Kingdom. Ginobili was the winner of the 2021 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar and the runner-up in the 2021 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Forbidden Kingdom was the winner of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes and the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park last winter. Get Her Number has mostly been sprinting this year, but he was a route Grade 1 winner earlier in his career when he won the 2021 American Pharoah Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. What is interesting about Get Her Number is that he’s been stalking or closing in sprints, but he actually has the tactical speed to stay on or near the lead in longer races like this one. That ability to stay close to the pace will greatly enhance his chances in this race. Get Her Number doesn’t ship out of California often, but the last time he did he won a $138,500 allowance race at Churchill Downs back on June 25. Get Her Number should get the jump on the closers in a similar pace position as Mind Control, and both horses could decide this race in a sprint to the finish. Jockey Luis Saez has won this race twice in the last three years, aboard Maximum Security in 2019 and on Americanrevolution last year.

Bet Get Her Number in the Cigar Mile

5. O Besos

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Greg Foley

Owners: Barnard Racing, Tagg Team Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Terry L. Stephens

Career record: 12 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $499,229

Earnings per start: $41,602

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Orb – Snuggs and Kisses, by Soto

Age: 4

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The biggest asset O Besos has is his late-running versatility as a horse that has been successful in his career going both long and short. He’s sprinted to three victories in his career at 5 ½ to six furlongs, and he’s also won around two turns. He was good enough as a 3-year-old last year to earn stakes placings in races like the Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby and the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes, and he also wasn’t embarrassed when fifth in the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. O Besos finished fifth last time out in the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Cigar Mile will be the first one-turn mile attempt O Besos’ career, but it’s about time because this trip seems tailor-made for a late-running sprinter like him. His most recent win was a six-furlong allowance at Churchill Downs on Oct. 1, and that win was flattered when runner-up Surveillance came back to win the $150,000 Thanksgiving Classic Stakes at Fair Grounds. O Besos earned a career-high 108 Equibase Speed Figure last spring when third in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes on a sloppy track at Keeneland, so if the track is wet on Saturday, it may only serve to enhance O Besos’ already legitimate upset chances in the Cigar Mile. Jockey Jose Ortiz won the 2018 Cigar Mile aboard Patternrecognition.

Bet O Besos in the Cigar Mile

6. Outlier

Jockey: Luis Angel Batista

Trainer: Norman Cash

Owners: Built Wright Stables

Career record: 40 starts – 8 wins – 4 seconds – 5 thirds

Career earnings: $256,066

Earnings per start: $6,401

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Not This Time – Tough Issie, by Good and Tough

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This throwback kind of a horse will be making his 20th start of the year in the Cigar Mile, and he’s compiled three wins, three second, and two thirds so far this year. Even with all that racing, his earnings for the year are just over $118,000, which is an indication of the drastically softer competition he’s been running against. He’s currently on a three-race streak of runner-up finishes, but those seconds came in a claiming race, a starter allowance at Aqueduct, and an allowance at Charles Town, so clearly he’s going to need to step it up to be competitive in this spot. He’s never won, or even been entered a stakes race yet in his 40-race career. It seems that the one legitimate asset any longshot could bring to the table in this race to give them a chance would be early speed. Unfortunately, Outlier is not a frontrunner. He should be stalking in the back half of the field and from there he’s not fast enough to pass the speeds and not proven good enough to finish ahead of the closers.

Bet Outlier in the Cigar Mile

7. Mind Control

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Red Oak Stable (Brunetti) and Madaket Stables

Career record: 28 starts – 11 wins – 3 second – 6 thirds

Career earnings: $1,773,334

Earnings per start: $63,333

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118

Pedigree: Stay Thirsty – Feel That Fire, by Lightnin N Thunder

Age: 6

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Mind Control has long been a top-class middle-distance performer based in New York, and he’ll be making his final career start in the Cigar Mile. He is a multiple Grade 1 winner and owns four victories on the Aqueduct main track, all in stakes. It would not be a surprise to anyone if he added a win in the crown jewel of Aqueduct’s fall stakes schedule to his résumé on Saturday. As a 2-year-old, Mind Control became a Grade 1 winner when taking the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, and he has been a consistently good stakes performer primarily on the competitive New York circuit – Saratoga, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct – ever since, maintaining top form during his 6-year-old season in 2022. Just three starts ago, Mind Control outbattled heavy favorite Hot Rod Charlie to win the Grade 3 Salvator Mile Stakes by a head at Monmouth Park and earned a career-high 118 Equibase Speed Figure. Other career highlights include wins in the 2021 Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont and the 2019 Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga. Mind Control’s Aqueduct stakes wins are the 2019 Jerome Stakes, the 2019 Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes, the 2020 Grade 3 Toboggan Stakes, and the 2020 Grade 3 Tom Fool Stakes. After all of this, is he still underrated? He won’t be if he adds the 2022 edition of the Cigar Mile to his trophy case. He’s the horse to beat. Jockey John Velazquez has won this race twice, on Left Bank in 2001 and on Tonalist in 2015. Fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher has won the Cigar Mile a record five times, starting with Left Bank and then with Lion Tamer (2004), Purge (2005), Stay Thirsty (2012), and last year’s victor Americanrevolution.

Bet Mind Control in the Cigar Mile