Stakes Saturday: Cigar Mile, Starlet headline weekend action

Stakes Saturday: Cigar Mile, Starlet headline weekend action
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Throughout the year, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern). Full entries can be viewed by clicking the race name.

The 32nd running of the Cigar Mile (G1) is the headliner of Saturday's card at Aqueduct which includes a pair of Grade 2, $150,000 nine-furlong events for juveniles in the Remsen and its filly counterpart, the Demoiselle which will offer 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the top-four finishers towards the 2021 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively.

Saturday Dec. 5

1 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on TVG

Already a winner at the nine-furlong distance, Known Agenda will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher a third Remsen triumph when heads up the five-horse field. Owned and bred by Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable, Known Agenda rose to the occasion at second asking, breaking his maiden on Nov. 8 at Aqueduct over a fast main track. The chestnut son of Curlin and second offspring out of Grade 1-winner Byrama finished second to eventual stakes-winner Highly Motivated in his career debut on Sept. 27, going 6 ½ furlongs at Belmont Park.

2:07 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap at Aqueduct on TVG

Teresa Viola Racing Stables and St. Elias Stable’s Nonna Madeline cuts back to one mile for the Go for Wand Handicap. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Nonna Madeline boasts a consistent record of 13-4-3-2 with purse earnings of $275,128. The 4-year-old Candy Ride (ARG) bay, bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, broke through in stakes company this summer when capturing the restricted Summer Colony at nine furlongs on the Saratoga Race Course main track.

3:44 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct on FS2

Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat, undefeated in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, will look to make the grade in Saturday’s Demoiselle. Out of the Pletcher-trained Dreaming of Julia, who captured the 2012 Frizette (G1) at Belmont Park, Malathaat boasts a golden pedigree that saw the filly purchased for $1.05 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The precocious bay drew off to a 1 3/4-length score when sprinting seven furlongs in her October 9 debut at Belmont Park and followed last out with a 7 3/4-length win in the Tempted at one-mile.

4:13 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct on FS2

Performer has checked a lot of boxes while forging a five-race winning streak. Owned by Phipps Stable and Claiborne Farm, the 4-year-old son of Speightstown will face Grade 1 competition for the first time as part of a competitive nine-horse field in the Cigar Mile Handicap. Performer went 4-for-4 as a sophomore in 2019, including a victory in the Discovery (G3) going 1 1/8 miles last November at Aqueduct. Off an 11-month layoff, Performer picked up where he left off, registering a 1 3/4-length win over optional claimers in a one-turn mile on Oct. 17 at Belmont Park.

5:28 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos on TVG

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella will seek his first win in the $300,000 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos when he sends out the undefeated Astute in the final Grade 1 of 2020 for 2-year-old fillies. Owned by LNJ Foxwoods, Astute, a daughter of Speightstown and the Langfuhr mare Discerning, went gate-to-wire in her Oct. 12 debut on turf, then moved to dirt and stretched out an extra eighth of a mile to win the 6 ½ furlong Desi Arnaz Stakes by 7 ½ lengths Nov. 14 at Del Mar.

Sunday Dec. 6

5:30 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos on TVG

Having finished in a dead-heat for the win in the Tranquility Lake Stakes on Aug. 28, Proud Emma and Message meet again in the Bayakoa Stakes going 1 1/16-miles. Trained by Bob Baffert, Message will be making her first start since that dead-heat triumph while Proud Emma enters off a seventh-place run in the Kathryn Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on Oct. 31.

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