The purse incentives offered by NYRA for the Cigar Mile have turned the November 30th grade one stake into a battle of Breeders’ Cup participants. The Cigar Mile offers a minimum purse of $500,000, but Groupie Doll and Goldencents will run for a $1,000,000 purse because they won a Breeders’ Cup race.
Winners of a grade one stake, like Alpha, Capo Bastone, and Verrazano will be competing for a gross purse of $750,000. Those three horses did also run in the Breeders’ Cup, but they get their purse incentive from their grade one victories.
As an early preview of the Cigar Mile, which is run around one turn on the Aqueduct main track, let’s do some Breeders’ Cup trip handicapping by looking at video and reviewing the running lines from the Daily Racing Form charts.
Goldencents, Verrazano, and Alpha ran in this year’s Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, in which Goldencents earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory. Verrazano ran fourth as the beaten favorite, 7¾ lengths behind, and Alpha finished eighth, behind by more than 13 lengths.
Watch the video of the Dirt Mile and also read the description of their trips from the official chart.
Goldencents was hard sent from the gate to gain a forward position, dueled outside of Broadway Empire through the opening quarter mile, spurted clear and angled in nearing the five eighths pole, was joined from the outside by Broadway Empire after a half, took pressure past the three eighths marker, moved away under urging in the lane, wandered outward a bit leaving the three sixteenths pole, was straightened to widen a furlong out then held firm under a drive.
Verrazano, in close pursuing between runners mid way on the first turn, was urged along chasing down the backstretch, came five wide for the drive, drifted out a bit inside the sixteenth pole and had a mild kick.
Alpha was fidgety in the gate just prior to the start, broke slowly, lagged back, saved ground into the lane and could not recover.
Groupie Doll earned a 107 BSF when she defended her crown in the seven furlong Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Groupie Doll, five wide under a snug hold early, edged up four wide within herself nearing the far turn, bid to join the leaders after a half mile, dueled three deep to the quarter pole, took over straightening for the wire, kicked away when put to strong urging leaving the three sixteenths marker, had her rider switch to the left stick in the vicinity of the sixteenth pole and dug in gamely to hold off Judy the Beauty.
In 2012 Groupie Doll finished second in the Cigar Mile earning a 109 BSF, one point higher than the 108 she earned winning her first BC F/M Sprint just three weeks earlier. This year there are four weeks between the two races because Thanksgiving falls so late in the calendar in 2013.
Here is the replay of the Groupie Doll’s narrow defeat by Stay Thirsty in 2012 Cigar Mile followed by her running line from the DRF race chart.
Groupie Doll sat patiently perched three wide just off the front runners, crept up to draw alongside them leaving the midway point on the turn, was the widest of three spinning into the stretch, got set down to a vigorous drive, both with the whip and being hand ridden, gained a narrow lead at the end of the furlong grounds, bobbed and weaved ever so slightly while making her way to the wire, was in the midst of doing so when so brushed late with the top one, dug in gamely to the end, but got denied.
Of the other three horses that are probable for the Cigar field, Capo Bastone and Gentlemen’s Bet also ran in a Breeders’ Cup race. Forty Tales is a multiple graded stakes winner.
Capo Bastone finished last in the field of 13 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 8.8-1. His effort was described in the DRF chart: Capo Bastone was in good position chasing the pace outside a rival, came out in the stretch and weakened.
Gentlemen's Bet finished third, a length and a half behind Secret Circle, in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at odds of 9.1-1. He does not have a grade one victory and will compete for the $500,000 purse. Gentlemen’s Bet prompted the pace inside of Sum of the Parts, assumed command into the turn, took pressure to the quarter pole, spurted away inside the three sixteenths pole, was taken on a sixteenth out and faded.