Trainer Barclay Tagg issued an upbeat
bulletin Friday morning as Jersey Town
for the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile Handicap, one of six graded stakes that
form Aqueduct Racetrack’s Heineken Holidayfest.
“He has a multitude of little problems that you have to
tweak all the time, but he’s great right now,” said Tagg. “He had a
mile-and-a-half gallop this morning with Robin [Smullen], and he was loving it.
He likes the [Belmont
main track] better than the training track. We had to train him on the training
track quite a bit the last couple of weeks, and he didn’t like it at all. He’ll
train on it because he’ll do anything you ask him to do, but he didn’t like it.
He loves the big track. I think [Aqueduct’s main track] is pretty close [in
similarity to Belmont’s
main track], and it has little bigger turns than the [training track].”
Jersey Town, a Charles Fipke homebred, won the 2010 Cigar
Mile and posted his second graded stakes score when he took Belmont’s Grade 2
Kelso Handicap by 3 ½ lengths on September 29. He tired to fifth in the Grade 1
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 3 at Santa Anita after pressing the pace.
“The whole Breeders’ Cup was weird,” said Tagg. “There were
two horses picked over him [sixth-place finisher Emcee and seventh-place
finisher Shackleford]. He beat both of them, and yet he didn’t get anything. I
don’t think he liked the two turns particularly. They’re tight, little turns
there, and maybe he didn’t like them.”
The Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up heads the November 24
card, which also includes the Grade 1, $350,000 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies,
the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds, and the Grade 2, $250,000
Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies. The Grade 3, $150,000 Fall Highweight for
sprinters will be contested on November 22 and the Grade 2, $200,000 Go for
Wand Handicap for fillies and mares is scheduled for November 23.
Aaccording to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, others
who are probable for the Cigar Mile are Buffum
and Associate, first and third in
the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October 27; Grade 1 winner Hymn Book, who dropped in class to take
the Frank “Pancho” Martin overnight stakes on October 19; and Stay Thirsty, the 2011 Grade 1 Travers
victor who missed by a head when second in the Grade 1 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup
on September 29. In addition, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is expected to
send either Coil or Capital Account, first and second in
the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Groupie Doll, a clear winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly
& Mare Sprint, is possible, as are Shackleford
and Ultimate Eagle.
In the Remsen, Tagg will be represented by Indy’s Illusion, who won a one-mile
off-the-turf allowance race in the mud by 1 ½ lengths on October 4 at Belmont. The Remsen will
be his fourth start and first around two turns.
“He seems like a long-distance horse,” said Tagg of Indy’s
Illusion, another Fipke homebred. “He’s just a knife blade of a horse; he’s not
very wide or anything. He’s a lovely mover; it looks like he just glides over
the ground. I call him a ‘hollow pipe.’ We have some big hopes for him, but
we’ll just have to see. He doesn’t have the numbers some horses have got. He
hasn’t run a 90 Beyer or anything like that, but, to me, he has gotten better
with every race.”