World traveler Mendelssohn and emerging star Copper Town headline a prospective field of 10 for the 30th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, scheduled for December 1 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Cigar Mile, the cornerstone of the Aqueduct fall meet, will headline a lucrative day of racing at the Big A, also featuring the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds, the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies, and the Grade 3, $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile.
Mendelssohn, trained by Aidan O'Brien for owners Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith, has competed at racetracks across the globe with wins in Ireland, Dubai and his first Grade 1 score last season in the U.S. when victorious in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, at Del Mar.
The bay son of Scat Daddy will be making his fourth appearance in New York, where he has hit the board in each previous occasion, finishing third in the Grade 3 Dwyer, second in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers and third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Copper Town, bred and co-owned by WinStar Farm in partnership with China Horse Club International, SF Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, arrives at the Cigar Mile on a three-race win streak for trainer Todd Pletcher. The Speightstown bay, out of stakes-winner Dynazaper, earned a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure for an allowance win at Belmont in October 2017.
Following a one-year layoff, the talented colt returned to racing with a five-length romp at Keeneland when sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs.
“This is only his second start off a long layoff and his comeback race was quite good,” said Pletcher. “He's a horse we've always had high expectations for. We're just hoping for a steady campaign with him. We feel like he's talented enough, if the one race has him fit enough to run against horses that have a little more seasoning and recency.”
Copper Town breezed four furlongs in 50.96 seconds on Saturday morning at Belmont.
“Copper Town is doing well,” said Pletcher. “He has been training exceptionally well.”
Dennis Drazin's millionaire Sunny Ridge will make his third Aqueduct appearance fresh off a determined second in the Grade 2 Kelso on September 22 at Belmont, a race won by likely Cigar Mile rival Patternrecognition.
The 5-year-old Holy Bull grey made the grade with a victory in the 2016 running of the Grade 3 Withers and has piled up stakes scores in the 2015 Sapling; the Stymie and Jazil in 2017; and the State Dinner in July at Belmont for trainer Jason Servis.
Leading New York trainer Chad Brown is expected to saddle both multiple graded stakes winner Timeline and the aforementioned Patternrecognition.
Woodford Racing's Timeline, by Hard Spun, won 4 of 6 sophomore starts, including victories in the Grade 3 Peter Pan and Grade 3 Pegasus. A beaten favorite when fifth in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, Timeline closed out his 2017 campaign with a seventh-place effort in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby. With a record of 1-1-2 from five starts in 2018, Timeline will look to make his third Grade 1 attempt a winning one on the back of a driving third in the Kelso.
Patternrecognition, owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, made his first graded start a winning one when making all the running in the Grade 2 Kelso. The ultra-consistent 5-year-old son of Adios Charlie sports a record of four wins and five seconds from 10 career starts. The talented bay is perfect in two starts over the Aqueduct main and earned a 103 Beyer for a win here in November 2017 at the Cigar Mile distance.
Name Changer, No Dozing, Pat On the Back, Stan the Man and True Timber are among the nominated horses expected to be featured here next Saturday.
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