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G1 CIGAR MILE TOPS FOUR GRADED EVENTS TO CLOSE FALL MEET + MANDATORY EMPIRE 6

Edited NYRA Press Release — 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 $250,000 Cigar Mile Handicap for 3-year-olds and up on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 32nd running of the Cigar Mile, known as the NYRA Mile from 1988-96, was renamed in honor of the 1994 winner and 2002 Hall of Fame inductee. The prestigious race headlines a lucrative card which includes a pair of Grade 2, $150,000 nine-furlong events for juveniles in the Remsen and its filly counterpart, the Demoiselle, as well as the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at one mile on the main track. The Remsen and Demoiselle will offer 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the top-four finishers towards the 2021 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively.
Performer raced third in his debut as a juvenile in November 2018 at the Big A. That marked the last— and only— time he failed to earn a trip to the winner’s circle, going 4-for-4 as a sophomore in 2019, including a victory in the Grade 3 Discovery 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 October 17 at Belmont Park. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who won this race in 1996 with Gold Fever, said his charge has continued to train well at Belmont since, recording six official workouts following his triumphant return.
“He’s training well. It has been a while since he ran, but he’ll be fit enough,” McGaughey said. “He’s been over that track before. He seems to be doing as well now as he’s ever done.”
Plans for a potential 5-year-old year have not been firmed up, but he’ll look to close 2020 with aplomb. Jockey Joel Rosario, 5-for-5 aboard Performer, will look to stay undefeated on the Kentucky homebred, drawing the inside post.
“Everything being equal he’ll run next year, but what I’ll do with him after Saturday, I’m not sure yet. We’ll have to wait and see,” McGaughey said.
Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fire was a good third last out in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland behind C Z Rocket and the winner Whitmore. In his last New York start, the Florida homebred won the Grade 2 Vosburgh Invitational over Big Sandy, posting his second triple digit Speed Figure of the year with a 101.
The Kelly Breen trainee has already won three graded stakes in his 5-year-old campaign, capturing the Grade 3 General George in February at Laurel Park along with the Grade 2 True North in June at Belmont.
Firenze Fire boasts a career record of 12-3-3 in 30 career start with field-high earnings of $2.21 million. Jose Lezcano will ride from post 4.
Trainer Jack Sisterson will send out a pair of Calumet Farm-owned Kentucky shippers who each have extensive experience at the Big A in True Timber and Bon Raison.
“They’ve shown us in the mornings that they both can run a competitive race,” Sisterson said.
True Timber will make his third Cigar Mile appearance after running second in 2018 and third a year ago. He has earned blacktype in three of the four starts since Sisterson took over the training duties from Kiaran McLaughlin, who retired to become a jockey agent.
In the summer meet, True Timber ran a strong third in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Forego on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course, garnering a season-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure. After finishing fourth in the six-furlong Grade 2 Vosburgh Invitational on September 26 at Belmont, he was stretched back out to seven furlongs for a runner-up effort in the Lafayette on November 7 at Keeneland, where he continued to train heading into the Cigar Mile.
“He’s been close to winning a race like this and is peaking at the right time,” Sisterson said. “He got stuck down at the rail running three-quarters at Belmont [in the Vosburgh]. He just wasn’t happy. He’s a horse who likes his own way and we learned that in the mornings. We let him put his feet where he wanted to and put him in a happy frame of mind and he moved forward extremely well.
“His coat looks good, his appetite is great and his energy level is high,” he added. “He’s shown that he wants to do more.”
Kendrick Carmouche will be in the irons from post 8.
Bon Raison enters off a 10th-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland. Prior to that, the 5-year-old son of Raison d’Etat won his first race since Sisterson took over the training duties, topping a field of optional claimers going six furlongs on October 16 at Keeneland.
The veteran workhorse is returning to a familiar spot at Aqueduct, where he is 3-0-2 in 13 career starts. In 2019, Bon Raison raced a whopping 21 times before scaling back the workload this year, as the Cigar Mile will be his ninth appearance of 2020.
“He’s got a late running style and he just seems to be a versatile horse,” Sisterson said. “He’s got talent and he’s intelligent. He has those attributes where he can do what you ask him to do.”
Jorge Vargas, Jr. will be aboard from post 9.
King Guillermo will enter off a seven-month layoff since running second in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on May 2 at Oaklawn Park. Originally slated to run in September’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, the Uncle Mo colt was scratched out of the 146th “Run for the Roses” with a fever.
Owned by Victoria’s Ranch, headed by 16-year Major League Baseball veteran and five-time All-Star Victor Martinez, King Guillermo has been training at conditioner Juan Avila’s base at Gulfstream Park, including a four-furlong blowout in 50.25 seconds on Friday before arriving in New York on Saturday.
King Guillermo broke his maiden at second asking in November at Gulfstream Park West and kicked off his 3-year-old year with a 4 ¾-length win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March before facing his first Grade 1 challenge in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby, where he ran second to Nadal.
“He’s good. He’s ready,” Avila said. “He’s getting ready to face that challenge. The mile will be good for him because he’s had seven months without a race.”Avila said he’s excited for the opportunity to bring the $150,000 purchase at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sale to New York.
“I really like the opportunity and the chance to win and this gives us a chance for people to know me and know King Guillermo,” Avila said. “We have big expectations.”
Jose Ortiz will pick up the mount from post 6.
Mr. Buff, owned and bred by Chester and Mary Broman, will give the race a New York homebred who will look for additional glory at the Big A. Making his 41st career start overall, the John Kimmel trainee is returning to a track where he is 8-3-0 in 13 previous starts, including five stakes victories led by a 20-length score in the one-mile Haynesfield in February that matched a career-best 106 Beyer.
The Friend Or Foe gelding, who be wrapping up his 6-year-old year, won the Empire Classic against state-breds last out going 1 1/8 miles on October 24 at Belmont.
Junior Alvarado, who won the 2013 Cigar Mile aboard Flat Out, will have the call from post 5.
Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control will face graded stakes company for the first time since running eighth in the Grade 1 Forego over the summer.
A four-time winner at the Big A, the Gregg Sacco trainee won in his last appearance at Aqueduct after rallying to take the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 7. Both of Mind Control’s Grade 1 scores came at Saratoga in the 2018 Hopeful and last year’s H. Allen Jerkens.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, a two-time Cigar Mile winner, will seek his third in breaking from post 2.
Bloom Racing Stable’s Snapper Sinclair will make his Aqueduct bow seeking his first win since the Tourist Mile in August 2019 at Kentucky Downs. Winless in his last 10 starts, the son of City Zip has still been competitive, finishing second or third in five of those efforts for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.Snapper Sinclair will make his first start in New York since breaking his maiden in August 2017 over the Mellon turf at Saratoga. Two starts back, he posted a runner-up finish in the Tourist Mile in September before a last-out third against allowance company on November 5 at Churchill. Manny Franco has the call from post 3.
R.A. Hill Stable’s Majestic Dunhill will wheel back off a six-day turnaround, looking to atone for a seventh-place finish after a slow start in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct.
Previously, the 5-year-old son of Majesticperfection, trained by George Weaver, won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on October 31 at Belmont. Dylan Davis will be in the irons for the first time, drawing post 7.

Juveniles face nine-furlong challenge in G2 Remsen 

A nine-furlong test awaits a field of five juvenile colts in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen over Aqueduct Racetrack’s main track. The Remsen, which offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, is one of four graded stakes on Saturday’s card which is headlined by the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up. The lucrative program also features the Remsen’s juvenile fillies nine-furlong counterpart, the Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle, as well as the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand for fillies and mares going a one-turn mile over the main track.
Already a winner at the nine-furlong distance, Known Agenda will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher a third Remsen triumph, joining subsequent Grade 1-winners Bluegrass Cat (2005) and Overanalyze (2012).
Owned and bred by Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable, Known Agenda rose to the occasion at second asking, breaking his maiden on November 8 at Aqueduct over a fast main track. He sat just 1 1/2 lengths off the pace in the nine-furlong maiden special weight and battled down the stretch with Greatest Honour before winning by a head, garnering a 79 Beyer Speed Figure.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 September 27, going 6 ½ furlongs at Belmont Park. 
“I was actually surprised he ran as well as he did sprinting, but it helped him a lot for his maiden win,” Pletcher said. “He’s designed to run longer. He’s had two good efforts so far.”
Since breaking his maiden, Known Agenda has recorded two breezes over the Belmont training track, most recently a half-mile going 48.52 seconds on November 28.
Pletcher said he was encouraged by the maiden victory on a track he considered to be deep on opening weekend of the Big A fall meet.
“We always felt that he was always a two-turn horse and is bred to be one,” Pletcher said. “Especially that opening week, it seemed like the track was extra demanding. The fact that he was able to handle it on that deep of a surface is encouraging. He’s come back and trained well so we’re looking forward to running him.”
John Velazquez, currently tied with fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Maple with four Remsen triumphs, will attempt to become the race’s standalone winningest jockey, piloting Known Agenda from post 2.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is the winningest conditioner in Remsen history with four previous scores and will attempt to extend his advantage when sending out Ten for Ten following a runner-up finish to Remsen-rival Pickin’ Time in the Grade 3 Nashua on November 7 at the Big A.
Owned by Donald and Donna Adam’s Courtlandt Farms, the son of first crop sire Frosted was second in his debut on September 7 going six furlongs at Saratoga before winning at second asking in front-running fashion by eight-lengths while registering a 78 Beyer. Ten for Ten replicated that figure in the Nashua when finishing 2 ¼ lengths back to Pickin’ Time.
Ten for Ten worked a quick half-mile in 48.25 seconds Sunday on Big Sandy and McGaughey said the colt is coming into the Remsen in good order.
“He worked in 48 and change and went fine,” McGaughey said. “We’re on the right track. He acts like he’s a pretty nice horse. It will be interesting seeing him go a mile and an eighth. He’s quick so we’ll see how he does on Saturday. He should be able to place himself well.”
Bred in Kentucky by George Krikorian, Ten for Ten is the second offspring out of the Eskendereya mare Summer Vacation, who is a half-sibling to Grade 1-winners Creative Cause and Vexatious, as well as multiple graded stakes winner Destin.
Jockey Jose Ortiz will ride Ten for Ten from post 5.
John Bowers, Jr.’s New Jersey homebred Pickin’ Time, trained by Kelly Breen, will attempt to become the first horse since Mohaymen in 2015 to score the Nashua-Remsen double.
The son of Stay Thirsty triumphed in the six-furlong Smoke Glacken on September 27 at Monmouth Park and stretched out to one mile in style in the Nashua, where he made a three-wide move at the top of the stretch and took command just outside the eighth-pole to draw off to victory.
Pickin’ Time boasts the highest earnings in the field with $184,025 through a consistent 5-3-1-0 lifetime record.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, who piloted 2009 Remsen victor Buddy’s Saint, will return to the saddle from the inside post.
Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong will attempt to parlay his stakes-winning form into graded stakes company for trainer Daniel Velazquez.
The son of Wicked Strong, bred in the Empire State by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, was a winner at first asking in a maiden claiming mile on September 12 at Delaware Park. Following a third in his stakes debut in the Bertram F. Bongard for state-breds on October 2 at Belmont Park, Brooklyn Strong bested fellow state-breds in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow on October 24 at Belmont Park by 2 1/4-lengths over Eagle Orb, who exited that race to win the Notebook on November 14 at the Big A.
“It shows we’re beating legitimate horses,” said Velazquez of the Sleepy Hollow score. “Physically, he’s really maturing. We’re coming into December now and he’s growing more into his body and he’s more physically stout.”
A $5,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training from the Coastal Equine consignment, Brooklyn Strong has already banked $112,500.
“The owner went down to Ocala and he called me and sent me a few pictures,” said Velazquez. “It was $5,000 and we decided to take a shot. We didn’t think he’d end up winning stakes races. Of course, we’re doing a little Derby dreaming, but we want to take it just one day at a time and stay healthy.”
Jockey Joel Rosario will climb aboard Brooklyn Strong for the first time from post 3.
Rounding out the field is Erawan, for trainer and owner Jose Corrales.The Florida bred son of Rock Hampton was a 23-1 upset winner of his career debut on November 8 at Laurel Park before facing winners going 1 1/16 miles at the Maryland oval, where he was elevated to third after rallying from last-of-9 to come within a half-length of victory.
Jockey Manny Franco will be in the irons from post 4.

Malathaat streaks into G2 Demoiselle

Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat, undefeated in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, will look to make the grade in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle, a nine-furlong test for juvenile fillies on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Demoiselle, which offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-four finishers, is part of a lucrative card headlined by the 32nd renewal of the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up and also includes the Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen at nine furlongs for juveniles and the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at one mile on the main track.
Live coverage of Cigar Mile Day will be available with America’s Day at the Races on FS2 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern and on MSG+ from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Free Equibase-provided past performances will be available for races that are part of the America’s Day at the Races broadcast and can be accessed at https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
By Curlin and out of the Pletcher-trained Dreaming of Julia, who captured the 2012 Grade 1 Frizette 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, bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, 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 on the Big A main track.
Pletcher said the added distance on Saturday shouldn’t hamper Malathaat.
“You would think with her pedigree and the way she won going a mile that a stretch out should not be an issue,” said Pletcher. “She’s always trained like a quality filly that wants two turns, so we’re excited about stretching her out. This filly has been a star from day one basically.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, aboard for the debut score which secured the rider his 2,000th win at Belmont, has the call from the inside post.
Pletcher will also send out Repole Stable’s Traffic Lane, who graduated last out in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on November 15 on the Big A turf. Kendrick Carmouche will guide the Outwork filly from post 2.
Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Millefeuille, by Curlin and out of the War Front mare Bandana, just missed at first asking, running second on September 26 in a one-turn mile at Belmont. The second time out worked a treat for the talented bay, when she posted a four-length win at the same distance on October 23 on Big Sandy.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said nine furlongs will suit his improving filly.
“She’s doing good. It seems like a good distance for her,” said Mott.
The Kentucky-bred is a direct descendant of prolific Juddmonte broodmare Toussaud, who produced 2003 Belmont Stakes winner and champion producing stallion Empire Maker, as well as Grade 1 winners Chester House, Chiselling and Honest Lady, who is the granddam of Millefeuille.
Joel Rosario retains the mount from post 3.
Allen Stable’s Cafe Society, an Ontario-bred daughter of Empire Maker, was purchased for $475,000 at the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. She won by 3 1/2-lengths in her October 18 debut when sprinting six furlongs at Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
Last out, Cafe Society chased the pace in the Tempted en route to a third-place effort, 10 1/4-lengths in arrears of Malathaat.
Cafe Society worked a half-mile in 49.03 seconds Sunday on the Belmont main track. McGaughey said he is expecting an improved effort.
“I was disappointed in her last race, but she’s come back and trained well,” said McGaughey. “She had a really good breeze and galloped out well, so hopefully we’ll see a little better performance than we did the last time. I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Jose Ortiz, aboard for the debut win, will guide Cafe Society from post 6.
Richard Greeley’s Caramocha, bred in New York by Chester and Mary Broman, graduated by 4 1/4-lengths on debut in a six-furlong sprint against fellow state-breds on November 7 at the Big A when sent to post at odds of 99-1.
Trained by Mitchell Friedman, Caramocha was a $100,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. Her second dam, Indy Glory, produced the multiple Grade 1-winning New York-bred Artemis Agrotera.
Caramocha will make her stakes debut from post 7 under Dylan Davis.
Rounding out the field are Woodslane Farm’s Malibu Curl [post 4, Junior Alvarado], Brereton C. Jones homebred Dollar Mountain [post 5, Jose Lezcano] and Designated Hitters Racing’s Celestial Cheetah [post 8, Manny Franco].

Nonna Madeline turns back in distance in G3 Go for Wand
Teresa Viola Racing Stables and St. Elias Stable’s Nonna Madeline cuts back to one mile for Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Go for Wand is part of a lucrative card headlined by the 32nd renewal of the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up and also includes a pair of Grade 2, $150,000 events for juveniles at nine furlongs on the main track in the Remsen and its filly counterpart, the Demoiselle.
Live coverage of Cigar Mile Day will be available with America’s Day at the Races on FS2 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern and on MSG+ from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Free Equibase-provided past performances will be available for races that are part of the America’s Day at the Races broadcast and can be accessed at https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
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 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.
Following an off-the-board effort in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Shuvee on August 30 at the Spa, Nonna Madeline made amends with a nose score over Royal Flag in the 1 1/16-mile Lady’s Secret on October 7 at Monmouth Park.
She enters from a prominent third in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm, won by familiar foe Royal Flag on November 7 at the Big A.
“She shows up every time and runs hard every time, so I wouldn’t expect her to do any different this time,” said Pletcher. “It will be interesting backing her up from a mile and an eighth to a mile. She should appreciate that as well.”
Pletcher will also saddle Whisper Hill Farm homebred Graceful Princess, a 4-year-old Tapit bay who ran fifth last out in the Turnback the Alarm.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will guide Nonna Madeline from the inside post, while Joel Rosario has the call on Graceful Princess from the outside post 6.
Sharp Starr, bred in New York by the Stonewall Farm of owner Barry Schwartz, earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure last out with a 15 3/4-length romp in a one-mile state-bred allowance tilt on November 7 at the Big A.
Trained by Horacio DePaz, the 3-year-old Munnings dark bay graduated in July at fourth asking in a one-turn mile against state-bred maidens at Belmont in her second start back off a layoff caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She was entered the Friday that racing was cancelled back in March and she was the favorite that day,” said DePaz. “We had that little break with no racing and when we brought her back, she just needed to run. We ran her three-quarters first time back and we knew that probably wouldn’t be to her liking but she would benefit from the experience. It ended up working out when we stretched her out to a mile and she won pretty convincingly.”
Sharp Starr tried a pair of nine-furlong events at Saratoga over the summer, finishing third in a state-bred allowance in July ahead of a closing third in the restricted Fleet Indian in September. Despite a troubled start in the Fleet Indian, Sharp Starr closed within one length of winner Makingcents and runner-up Ice Princess, who exited that effort to run second in the Grade 3 Comely on Friday for trainer Danny Gargan.
“It was an unfortunate start,” said DePaz of the Fleet Indian. “At the beginning of that race, horses were all over the place. But it’s also been a productive race. Danny Gargan’s filly came back last weekend and she ran an honest effort and ended up hitting the board.
“She made up ground in both her races at Saratoga,” added DePaz. “Even in the allowance race, that track was playing very speed favoring and she was the only horse that made up ground during the day.”
Following an off-the-board effort in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on October 3 at Pimlico Race Course, DePaz said Sharp Starr appreciated the cutback in distance last out.
“After the Black-Eyed Susan, I thought maybe I wasn’t reading the filly right but she came back with a very honest effort back at Aqueduct,” said DePaz. “I thought maybe we could redeem ourselves and maybe she really takes to the one turn.”
The 35-year-old DePaz, in search of his first graded stakes win, said a big effort from Sharp Starr on Saturday would be very meaningful.
“It would be great and I’d be very happy for Barry,” said DePaz. “We’ve had her since she was a 2-year-old and got her started. I’ve tried to manage and maintain her. It would be really exciting considering how tough this year has been for everybody and also because it’s my first year coming full time to New York.”
Jose Ortiz, aboard for the maiden win and Fleet Indian efforts, has the call from post 3.

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