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Bribon on target for Cigar Mile

Multiple graded-stakes winner Bribon breezed a half-mile Sunday morning over Belmont Park’s training track in 49.06 for next week’s Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile, which will be the 37th start of his career. Now 7, the Mark of Esteem gelding heads into the race off a late-running victory in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on October 30.


“He’s an interesting horse,” said Todd Pletcher, who this year took over Bribon’s training for owner Derrick Smith. “He’s bred to be a turf route horse, but is at his best sprinting on the dirt. He’s a really cool horse to be around, with a great personality. He’s got a big heart, loves the game, tries hard, and is talented to go along with it.”


Second by a head in last year’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile and third in the 2008 edition, Bribon is 2-1-1 in four starts at the Big A, with both victories coming in optional claimers.


Also on Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile Day, Pletcher will be saddling Awesome Maria in the Grade 1 Gazelle and the juvenile duo of Summer Laugh and Tap for Luck in the Grade 2 Demoiselle.


Awesome Maria, fourth as the favorite in the Topicount overnight turf stakes at Belmont Park on October 27, breezed a half in 49.50 Sunday morning in preparation for the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle.


“I am not 100 percent sure what her best distance or her best surface is; I think she is one of those rare fillies who handles a variety of surfaces and distances well,” said Pletcher of Awesome Maria, who won the one-mile Riskaverse on the turf at Saratoga Race Course in her 2010 debut, then finished third to Havre de Grace and Blind Luck in the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion at 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Parx Racing. “I do think 1 1/8 miles on dirt, having three starts under her belt this year, should be the right combination for her.”


Summer Laugh, who has won both her starts, breezed a half-mile in 50.81 on the training track Sunday morning, while Tap for Luck, most recently second in the Grade 3 Tempted on November 6 at Aqueduct, will have her final work tomorrow, Pletcher said.


“This is a real test for 2-year-old fillies, going 1 1/8 miles,” he said. “It generally separates the fillies that just don’t want to go that far. It’s obviously late in the year but it’s pretty early in the game for all the 2-year-olds, especially the fillies. The ones that want to go that far have a big edge. With their pedigrees, we are hopeful that Tap for Luck and Summer Laugh will handle the distance.”




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