Cigar Mile Day's stakes action kicked off when Feel Glorious ended a five-race slump and backed up her 8-5 favoritism by coming off the pace to secure her second stakes victory, holding off a late charge from fellow Christophe Clement trainee Sorrentina Lemon in Saturday's $150,000 Winter Memories over a yielding inner turf at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 1 1/16-mile event pays tribute to Phillips Racing Partnership's seven-time graded stakes-winning millionaire who captured the Garden City at Belmont Park and Diana Handicap at Saratoga Race Course (both Grade 1) during her outstanding racing career. She was trained by veteran conditioner Jimmy Toner.
Coincidentally, Feel Glorious had not won since winning a stakes race named after Winter Memories' dam Memories of Silver, which was contested in April at the Big A. The bay daughter of Bated Breath arrived at Saturday's race off of a narrow second to New and Improved in the Grade 2 Sands Point on October 12 at Belmont Park.
Breaking from the rail under Junior Alvarado, Feel Glorious took back and was last of the tightly packed seven-horse field heading into the first turn as 30-1 long shot Panther Hit led through an opening quarter in 23.06 seconds.
Past the quarter-pole, three-time winner Tass took command, leading thorough a half-mile in 47.79 seconds.
Around the far turn, Panther Hit resumed command as Feel Glorious continued to hug the rail receiving her cue from Alvarado at the top of the stretch. Feel Glorious was in pursuit and took the lead just past the eighth-pole as Panther Hit retreated.
Two-time winner Sorrentina Lemon unleashed a competitive bid to the outside but Feel Glorious was able to hang on to win by three-quarters of a length over her stablemate in a final time of 1:43.16.
Sorrentina Lemon finished another 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Atomic Blonde in third.
Feel Glorious, who began her career in her native Great Britain for former conditioner George Baker, is now unbeaten in two starts at Aqueduct.
The win was a third stakes victory of the meet for Alvarado, who piloted Golden Award and Our Super Nova to their respective victories in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm and NYSSS Staten Island.
“She broke well. We got shuffled back a little bit coming out of the chute in the first part, but I still thought she was travelling well,” Alvarado said. “We were six lengths behind the leader, and I was told to be about mid-pack. I was probably a little farther back than they wanted, but she was travelling well. She started picking it up and we were just waiting for room to open up. I knew I had a lot of horse. When we turned for home, the hole opened up at the rail and she never hesitated. She went through and finished very strong for me.”
Returning $5.40 for a $2 win wager, Feel Glorious now boasts a lifetime record of 13-4-3-1 and enhanced her bankroll to $298,734 after cashing a check for the winner's share of $88,688.
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Tango Uniform Racing, Feel Glorious is out of the Medicean broodmare Self Centered.
Clement's assistant Christophe Lorieul was on hand to saddle Feel Glorious and was pleased with both of the barn's runners.
“I thought each of our horses were going to be a bit closer. We were last and second-to-last going into the first turn,” Lorieul said. “They went pretty quick early on, so that gave us a chance to close. Both fillies had good trips as a result of being in the back of the field early. Feel Glorious found an opening on the inside and Sorrentina Lemon was able to find her way on the outside. They both finished very well and we're very happy with the result to pick up some black type.”
Lorieul spoke volumes of runner-up Sorrentina Lemon, who arrived at her stakes debut unbeaten in two starts.
“We couldn't be more delighted,” Lorieul said. “She ran well to finish second and perhaps if it was a bit more distance, the tables may have been turned around. Both fillies ran great.”
Completing the order of finish were Panther Hit, Shelter Island, Tass and On the Town.
Jabuticaba, Tuned and main-track only entrants Jennemily, Team Win and Monaco Princess were scratched.
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