Aloha West eyes the Cigar Mile to bolster championship hopes

Aloha West eyes the Cigar Mile to bolster championship hopes
Photo: Shamela Hanley/Eclipse Sportswire

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners could have as many as two contenders for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile on Saturday at Aqueduct. 

Aron Wellman, managing partner of the syndicate, said multiple graded stakes winner Independence Hall is confirmed for the final Grade 1 in New York this year, which will be his final start before going to stud.

Wellman added that Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Aloha West could also run in the Cigar Mile in pursuit of an Eclipse Award for champion sprinter. 

“Independence Hall is definite pending his next work at Churchill,” Wellman said. “The Cigar Mile is under consideration for Aloha West, but no decisions have been made.”

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Independence Hall registered a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure last out when going gate-to-wire in the Fayette (G2) on Oct. 30 over a sloppy and sealed Keeneland main track.

Owned in partnership with Twin Creeks Racing Stables, WinStar Farm, Kathleen Verratti and Robert Verratti, the son of Constitution is 2-for-2 at a one-turn mile at Aqueduct when romping to a 12 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Nashua in November 2019 followed by a four-length score in the Jerome on New Year’s Day 2020. 

Aloha West, a two-time winner at Saratoga this summer, returned to the work tab on Wednesday morning for trainer Wayne Catalano, recording a half-mile move in 49.40 over the Fair Grounds Race Course main track. 

“We wanted to put the Cigar Mile in play, which is why we breezed Wednesday, but we’re monitoring him closely ahead of the race,” Wellman said. “That workout was designed to try to get a gauge on if we should pursue the race or not.”

A victory would make Aloha West the first horse to capture both the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Cigar Mile. Prior to his last out coup, which saw a 100 Beyer, the Maryland-bred son of Hard Spun was second beaten a neck in the Grade 2 Phoenix on October 8 at Keeneland. 

2021 Cigar Mile (G1)

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