The final Grade 1 of 2022 in New York takes place at Aqueduct on Saturday, as the Cigar Mile Handicap is the ninth race on the card. This race is run over a distance of a mile, and a purse of $750,000 has been made available.
Todd Pletcher holds an excellent record in this race, having previously claimed victory on five occasions. But, which horses are likely to be among the most likely winners of the prestigious Grade 1?
White Abarrio- 7/2
I’m a massive fan of White Abarrio, and he is personally one of my favorite horses in training in the U.S. But, I see this as a warm-up for his preferred final target at his beloved Gulfstream Park and the G1 Pegasus World Cup in January.
His record at Gulfstream is unbelievable, having won four from four, but he is winless in five starts away from the track. His latest effort saw him finish fifth in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby. While I don’t expect him to win, I’d be surprised not to see him in the first three.
Mind Control- 7/2
There is a clear argument to suggest that Mind Control is slightly underrated, but his price for the Cigar Mile looks to be a fair one. He will be representing the Todd Pletcher stable, which has won this on five previous occasions, while jockey John Velazquez has claimed two wins in the race.
His stalking style could work out perfectly for him this weekend, and he comes to Aqueduct looking for a 12th win on his 29th start. He has already claimed some valuable prizes over a mile this season, including the Parx Dirt Mile and G3 Salvator Mile. However, he is winless in his previous two efforts at Aqueduct since landing the G3 Tom Fool Handicap in 2020. It’s very hard to completely dismiss his chances.
Get Her Number- 6/1
Get Her Number is my second choice for this race, as I think the contest could be perfectly suited to his style However, I feel like he will come up just short. It’s most interesting that he is being shipped over from California, which does indicate that this race may have been a goal from a long time ago, and he was very impressive when dispatching of a stacked field over six furlongs at Del Mar last month.
His best run in graded company since landing the American Pharoah in 2020 came when third in the G2 Triple Bend. I have reservations about his style over a mile, and I think he may just tire and settle for second behind the pick.
Cigar Mile Pick: Zandon- 10/11
Zandon would be the play for the Cigar Mile, with Get Her Number finishing second. This three-year-old for Chad Brown has enjoyed a very solid season, having never failed to finish outside the top three. He has previous experience of Aqueduct, having finished second to subsequent Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal in the G2 Remsen 12 months ago.
Zandon was last seen finishing second behind Taiba, who would later finish in the top three in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby. His form is rock-solid, and I would be tremendously surprised if he isn’t good enough to finally land another big prize this weekend.