Baby Yoda will pursue his 1st graded-stakes win in Cigar Mile

Baby Yoda will pursue his 1st graded-stakes win in Cigar Mile
Photo: NYRA

Seven-time winner and multiple graded-stakes placed Baby Yoda will pursue his first stakes triumph in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, co-owner Adam Wachtel said.

Owned by Wachtel Stable in partnership with Pantofel Stable, Gary Barber and Jerry Zaro and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Baby Yoda most recently was a close second as the favorite in the Kelso (G2) on Oct. 29 at Belmont at the Big A. He set a moderate tempo on the backstretch before being passed up by upset winner and probable returning rival Double Crown inside the sixteenth pole.

A four-time winner of eight starts this season, the 4-year-old Prospective gelding defeated starter-allowance company going six furlongs twice in Kentucky at the beginning of the year before securing allowance optional-claiming scores on the NYRA circuit going seven furlongs and a one-turn mile, respectively. He was a narrowly beaten second in the Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs in his 2022 debut and was a distant second to Flightline in last year’s Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita.

Baby Yoda worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday.

“He’s a little bit of a folk hero, but he’s never won a stakes race,” Wachtel said. “He’s come close a couple times, he finished second to Flightline in the Malibu. I would hope that we get some weight from some of these others. But so far, that’s the plan. If he comes out of yesterday’s work in good shape, we’ll be there next Saturday.”

Baby Yoda is most well-known for recording a 114 Beyer Speed Figure at allowance level last September at Saratoga, defeating eventual Grade 1 winning stablemate Olympiad by 4 1/4 lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs.

“That was quite something. I came up that day on a last-minute trip and I knew he was training well and I knew how good Olympiad was,” Wachtel recalled. “That was quite the extraordinary effort. The next morning, I was at the training track and other trainers that I knew were making comments about how good the horse was. He’s been a really cool horse that’s run in big races against big competition. We gave him a little class relief in Kentucky this spring running in some starter races, just trying to get his confidence back up.”

Wachtel, who is a part owner of the Mott-trained 2020 champion male turf horse Channel Maker, said the 8-year-old son of English Channel will remain in training in 2023. The earner of over $3.7 million was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 5 at Keeneland last out to cap off a season that included victories in the Elkhorn (G2) in April at Keeneland and the Grand Couturier in July at Belmont Park.

“Physically, the horse looks unbelievable. He’s 8 years old, and Bill and his staff said this summer that he looks better now than he did two years ago,” Wachtel said. “He’s all dappled out and he looks phenomenal, and he hasn’t lost anything. As long as he is physically well enough, we see no reason why we shouldn’t go on with him. He’s getting a little break, but he’s not leaving the track. We probably won’t run him until late February at the earliest.”

Channel Maker, bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, has won some of the NYRA circuit’s premier events for turf horses, including the Man o’ War (G1, 2019), Sword Dancer Invitational (G1, 2020) and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1, 2018, 2020).

2022 Cigar Mile G1

Fin Silks Horse / Sire Rating Trainer / Jockey Last Start / Next Start Status
Horse Silk Zandon Zandon
8.02 Chad C. Brown 2nd, 2022 Pennsylvania Derby G1 Probable
Last Race 2nd, 2022 Pennsylvania Derby G1
Horse Silk White Abarrio White Abarrio
Race Day
7.35 Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. 5th, 2022 Pennsylvania Derby G1 Probable
Last Race 5th, 2022 Pennsylvania Derby G1
Horse Silk O Besos O Besos
6.57 Gregory D. Foley 5th, 2022 Breeders' Cup Sprint G1 Probable
Last Race 5th, 2022 Breeders' Cup Sprint G1
Horse Silk Mind Control Mind Control
Stay Thirsty
7.12 Todd A. Pletcher 1st, 2022 Parx Dirt Mile LS Probable
Last Race 1st, 2022 Parx Dirt Mile LS
Horse Silk Get Her Number Get Her Number
Dialed In
6.01 Peter Miller 7th, 2022 Pat O'Brien Handicap G2 Possible
Last Race 7th, 2022 Pat O'Brien Handicap G2
Horse Silk Double Crown Double Crown
Bourbon Courage
5.34 Norman L. Cash 1st, 2022 Kelso Handicap G2 Probable
Last Race 1st, 2022 Kelso Handicap G2
Horse Silk Baby Yoda Baby Yoda
4.93 William I. Mott 2nd, 2022 Kelso Handicap G2 Probable
Last Race 2nd, 2022 Kelso Handicap G2

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