Race of the Week: Cigar Mile at Aqueduct | Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Lead:
Four graded stakes races, headlined by the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, share the marquee Saturday at Aqueduct. The undercard boasts the Remsen and Demoiselle for the 2-year-olds, along with the Go For Ward for the elder fillies and mares. Horseplayers on the 1/ST BET and Xpressbet platforms will be playing for $10,000 in additional hit-and-split cash.

   $5,000 Aqueduct Late Pick 4 Hit & Split (Races 7 – 10)
   $2,500 Aqueduct Early Pick 4 Hit & Split (Races 2 – 5)
   $2,500 Aqueduct Middle Pick 4 Hit & Split (Races 4 – 7)

​Field Depth:  
Grade 1 winners here include MIND CONTROL, ZANDON, WHITE ABARRIO and GET HER NUMBER among the field of 6. DOUBLE CROWN is a Grade 2 winner. Note: O BESOS will scratch.

There's not a blazing amount of pace for a 1-turn Grade 1 stakes. MIND CONTROL may be quickest early and he's only set the tempo once in his last 7 starts. WHITE ABARRIO made the front in the PA Derby last out, but has led in only 2 of his 9 lifetime starts. Cheap speed OUTLIER looks overmatched, but could be used early. You don't want to be too far out of this race given the modest early set-up.

Our Eyes:
Three-year-olds have won the Cigar Mile 2 of the last 3 years and half of the last 6. That puts 2022 Grade 1 Blue Grass winner ZANDON and Grade 1 Florida Derby champ WHITE ABARRIO in the fore of handicapping thoughts. ZANDON cuts back from 2-turn races to a single bend for the first time since his debut last October. He's never been a high, turn-of-foot type. If he's to be successful in this race, he'll have to be kept closer to the pace like he was in the Jim Dandy when second-best to Epicenter. WHITE ABARRIO, like ZANDON, has been freshened since the PA Derby in September. It's WHITE ABARRIO who has been working with more zeal and intent, posting 3 bullet drills in his 5 works between starts. The move to jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. looks significant aboard the Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee. But trainer Chad Brown hits a wild 40% winners the past 3 years in Aqueduct 1-turn miles from 116 starters, according to Betmix. He'll have ZANDON cued up properly.

MIND CONTROL makes the final start of his career at age 6, racing for the 29th time. It's his first Cigar Mile appearance, but he's won the Jerome, Bay Shore and Tom Fool among his scores over this track. His trainer Todd Pletcher has a record 5 wins in the Cigar Mile, including last year with Americanrevolution. Jockey John Velazquez was aggressive aboard MIND CONTROL this summer when he upset Hot Rod Charlie in the Salvator Mile. The veteran will easily discern this pace scenario and likely put MIND CONTROL on or near the lead. He'll be a tough out.

GET HER NUMBER travels from his Southern California base and is no stranger to road trips. He's ventured to Oaklawn, Lone Star and Churchill Downs during the on-again, off-again saga of trainer Peter Miller in the last year or so. He comes off of 5 straight sprint races and extends to a mile or more on dirt for the first time since May of 2021. GET HER NUMBER could be best as a closing sprinter, but the 1-turn mile often flatters this type of running style.

The field is rounded out by DOUBLE CROWN, 42-1 upset winner over the Grade 2 Kelso over this track and trip, paying off his $40,000 claim from June; and OUTLIER, runner-up in his last 3 in claiming, starter and allowance conditions.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
MIND CONTROL should be forwardly placed, owns a 7-7 in the trifecta record at Aqueduct and is a 3-time stakes winner over the track.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
GET HER NUMBER could be a slight overlay price, though triple-digit speed figures in 2 of his last 3 could slice into the price.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$40 exacta box ZANDON and MIND CONTROL ($80). $10 exacta box WHITE ABARRIO and MIND CONTROL ($20).

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