Jersey Town, the longest shot in the field at 34-1,
dueled with Haynesfield through the final 200 yards before prevailing by a head
to win a rousing edition of the Grade 1, $250,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale
Cigar Mile on Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Barclay Tagg for owner Charles Fipke, who teamed to win the
2008 edition of the race with Tale of Ekati, Jersey Town
ran third through the early going as pacesetter Vineyard Haven was prompted through
fractions of 22.69 and 45.27 by Haynesfield. Moving up to challenge for the
lead on the turn, Jersey Town bore down on Haynesfield in upper stretch and the
two battled back-and-forth to the wire, with Jersey Town sticking his head in
front at the last second for the victory.
His time for the mile was 1:34.43.
“Today, he wanted to win,” said jockey Cornelio Velasquez,
aboard the 4-year-old son of Speightstown. “The other horse, he ran a big
one too. My horse is a very good horse.”
Girolamo closed from mid-pack to finish third, 1 ¾ lengths clear of
favored Bribon, who in turn was followed by Friend Or Foe, Soaring Empire,
Vineyard Haven, Musket Man, and Half Metal Jacket.
“I thought he ran well and tried hard; he just came up a little
flat the last sixteenth of a mile,” said Todd Pletcher, trainer of the
The Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile, the final Grade 1 race of the
year in New York, was the first stakes victory
of any kind of Jersey Town, who was bred in Kentucky by his owner. Unraced at two, Jersey Town
won four of his first five starts in 2009, then finished second in his first
graded stakes effort, the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby at Hastings Racecourse,
in his final start of the year. Off for 10 months with a leg injury, Jersey Town came
back at Emerald Downs over the summer, and then was returned to Tagg at Belmont Park with the original intention of
running in the Breeders’ Cup.
“Mr. Fipke had him out West, and wanted to go to the
Breeders’ Cup,” said Tagg, who this fall saddled Jersey Town to a
third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kelso and a second-place finish behind Bribon
in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler. “I talked him out of that, and said the Cigar
Mile would be a lot easier, and it’s still a Grade 1. Then the race came
up so tough, and I thought we made a mistake.”
Overlooked in a field that included four Grade 1 winners in Girolamo,
Vineyard Haven, Bribon and Haynesfield, Jersey Town
returned $71.50 for a $2 win bet to his backers in the crowd of 6,723. With the
winner’s purse of $150,000, he now has earned $394,001, and compiled a
record of 5-5-1 from 15 starts.
“I have no idea what’s next,” said Tagg.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep him around for a little bit.”