Rocket Fuel
Please provide a valid email address.


Groupie Doll won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in her last start (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).

The 25th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap features Groupie Doll, repeat winner of the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint four weeks ago, who attempts to make amends for her nose defeat in the 2012 edition of this race. 10 strong foes are lined up to try to keep that from happening, led by decisive Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents.

Adding to the star power of this year's Cigar Mile is Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up (by a neck) Laugh Track as well as recent Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap winner Clearly Now. Another formidable contender is likely to be Forty Tales, runner-up in the Bold Ruler and winner of the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes this summer. Capo Bastone won the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes before a potentially irrelevant 13th place effort when trying grass for the first time in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Saratoga Snacks has never raced outside of New York but has won seven of 10 career starts including a trio of stakes races this year for New York-breds, most recently the Empire Classic Handicap. Flat Out won the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes in April at this one-turn mile distance and two races later won the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, so adds more depth to the field. Verrazano failed as the favorite when fourth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile but won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational two races prior to that and is yet another with credentials to succeed. Private Zone ships in from California the same way he did before winning the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational in September and although he faded to 10th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint he could find himself on the lead from the start and pose an elusive target in the Cigar Mile. Praetereo rounds out the field, coming into this race off a career best effort when victorious by nearly six lengths over the track.

Clearly Now is a rapidly improving 3-year-old who may not have peaked yet, having just won the Bold Ruler Handicap decisively with a big move on the far turn and holding all the closers safe in the last eighth of a mile. With a career best 126 Equibase Speed Figure to improve upon as his makes his third start off a two and one-half month layoff and second since adding blinkers (which made a world of difference), Clearly Now retains the services of jockey Jose Lezcano, who rode him for the first time in the Bold Ruler. Likely to be sitting in second or third position in the early stages off pacesetters Private Zone and Goldencents, Clearly Now could be in the perfect position to capitalize if they weaken and win this year's Cigar Mile Handicap.

Private Zone ships out from California after a poor effort in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a race in which he didn't get the early lead he likes after the pacesetters ran an incredible first quarter mile in 21.2 seconds. Prior to that when shipping from California to New York, Private Zone led from the start in the Vosburgh Invitational Stakes and held on by a neck over a fast charging Justin Philip, then survived a steward's inquiry. With a good outside post for the Cigar Mile the same as he had in the Vosburgh, Private Zone has potential to get the lead rather easily as there are no other horses that want the lead as badly. Having earned a career best 117 figure in the Vosburgh, Private Zone has every right to win his second grade 1 stakes race of the year.


Private Zone

Photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglinese

Groupie Doll enters this year's Cigar Mile Handicap the same as she did last year, having just won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint four weeks ago in California. Last year, Groupie Doll led in with an eighth of a mile to go and then battled head-and-head down to the line before coming up a nose short to Stay Thirsty on the wire. In this race last year Groupie Doll earned a 118 Equibase Speed Figure, the same figure earned earlier this month in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Her best career figure, 121, came in last year's Filly and Mare Sprint. Stretching out from seven furlongs to this one-turn mile trip should be no issue as Groupie Doll has won at it twice previously in her career. Likely to appreciate the fast early tempo in this year's Cigar Mile, Groupie Doll should be putting in a big late run to be in the photo at the end just as she was last year.

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Capo Bastone (109), Flat Out (129), Forty Tales (123), Goldencents (115), Laugh Track (114), Praetereo (119), Saratoga Snacks (121) and Verrazano (112).

My Selections:

Clearly Now

Private Zone

Groupie Doll

$500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap 

Race 8, Aqueduct, Saturday, 3:20 P.M. E.T.

1 mile on the dirt, 3-year-olds and up







Praetereo (KY)

D Cohen


D Jacobson


Forty Tales (KY)

J Rosario


T A Pletcher


Clearly Now (KY)

J Lezcano


B A Lynch


Groupie Doll (KY)

R Maragh


W B Bradley


Laugh Track (KY)

M E Smith


M E Casse


Capo Bastone (KY)

I Ortiz Jr.


T A Pletcher


Saratoga Snacks (NY)

J L Ortiz


G Sciacca


Goldencents (KY)

R Bejarano


D F O'Neill


Flat Out (FL)

J Alvarado


W I Mott


Verrazano (KY)

J Castellano


T A Pletcher


Private Zone (ON)

M A Pedroza


D F O'Neill

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

blog comments powered by Disqus

Sponsors & Partners

  • FoxSports1
  • NBC Sports
  • Logo 6
  • Saratoga
  • Santa Anita
  • CBS Sports
  • Monmouth
  • Keeneland
  • Gulfstream Park
  • Del Mar
  • Belmont Park
  • Arlington Park
  • OwnerView