The last Graded-stakes action of the year in New York takes place at Aqueduct on Saturday, and the curtain comes down with a bang. The feature G2 2023 Cigar Mile Handicap brings together the 1-2-3 from the G2 Forty Niner over course and distance – Everso Mischievous, Dr Ardito, Accretive – to take on seasoned G2 winner Senor Buscador, while the G3 Go For Wand pits last year’s winner Dr B against two strong Chad Brown contenders in Good Sam and Gerrymander.
Cigar Mile Handicap
G2 – purse $500,000 – 1m – dirt – 3yo+ – 4.12pm ET
The Cigar Mile, headline contest of a stakes-heavy Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct, has been downgraded from a G1 this year, with the result being an absence of celebrity names but a big, competitive field with a 7lb weight spread and contenders coming at the race from different angles.
The solid recent form option is Everso Mischievous, who has never been out of the first two in six starts and comes here looking for a four-timer after making his stakes breakthrough over course and distance last time.
He stalked and pounced in the 2023 G2 Forty Niner, showing plenty of grit for a horse still learning the game in holding off the late rally of barnmates Dr Ardito and Accretive. Everso Mischievous got home by a half-length, with a nose between the board horses, and should continue to progress. His go-forward tactics will fit in well again and he is unbeaten in three when wearing blinkers.
It was also a career-best from Dr Ardito, a late bloomer who will be doing his best work late at a track where he is five-for-seven, while Accretive has a ton of speed and could be a little vulnerable at this distance in this class.
Their fellow barnmate Cascais was runner-up in an allowance over course and distance on his first start for almost a year – he makes his stakes debut now and this is a big question to ask a very inexperienced horse.
Long-distance traveller Senor Buscador gets a chunk of class relief after chasing tails in the 2023 G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His last three starts have all been G1s, and on his most recent run at this level he wrapped up the 2023 G2 San Diego at Del Mar over a mile-sixteenth.
The slight cutback is no issue but the east-coast form may be stronger. Senor Buscador is nevertheless much preferred to fellow 2023 Breeders’ Cup also-rans Hoist The Gold and Three Technique, sixth and eighth/last in the G1 Sprint.
This is something new for Coastal Mission, who is the king of Charles Town after going eight-for-eight there through 2023, blowing them away in a mile-eighth stakes last time, winning a seven-furlong stakes the time before.
Charles Town is a specialists’ track, though, and this represents a major class hike – just because he can hit 1.000 in the minors does not mean he is ready for the big league.
High Oak has not won a race of any description since August 2021, although he can go well now and then, as he did when a no-show third in the 2023 G1 Forego at Saratoga over seven furlongs, two and a quarter lengths ahead of Pipeline – who was eighth in this race in 2021 and has still never won a stakes – in fourth.
2023 Cigar Mile Handicap Odds
The Forty Niner is the key and the progressive EVERSO MISCHIEVOUS can build on his win there and confirm form with the reopposing second and third.
|Betting Odds by Jazzsports
|Hoist The Gold
Go For Wand Stakes
G3 – purse $200,000 – 1m – dirt – 3yo+ females – 3.17pm ET
The distaff equivalent Go For Wand has drawn a shorter, less accomplished field but it does feature the return of last year’s winner, who is on a retrieval mission after drawing a blank since that success.
The horse in question is Dr B, who was very impressive 12 months ago when going gate-to-wire and drawing off to score by four and a quarter lengths on a sloppy track. She has been more highly tried this year without making much of an impact, although this certainly represents class relief after her fifth place in the 2023 G1 Ballerina at Saratoga behind Echo Zulu and Goodnight Olive.
Perhaps this return to the Big A will rekindle her flame – this is clearly her level, although she was in much better form before winning this last year.
Chad Brown loads both barrels and the eye is drawn to the inexperienced Good Sam, three-for-three at this track including an easy win in a stakes at this distance just over a year ago. Good Sam stalked and pounced to win an allowance here over seven furlongs last time, cruising by three and a half lengths, and this is a logical move for a progressive filly.
Her barnmate Gerrymander has benefited from a drop in class this summer but forget her last-time-out victory in a stakes over course and distance, as she had just one rival. She has a G2 score on her resume but is fully exposed now and needs to prove she can still make it pay at this level.
Tizzy In The Sky is three-for-five at the Big A and shaped very well on her return to stakes company here over a mile-eighth. She went under by just a neck after a stretch duel and is certainly on the up, although the cutback may not be a positive.
On her previous start she demolished an allowance here over a mile-eighth, going coast-to-coast and clearing right away to score by nine and a quarter lengths, with Know It All Audrey third.
That filly boosted the form when winning a state-bred stakes here over a mile-eighth next time, dominant by two and three-quarter lengths with Venti Valentine – previously winner of a state-bred stakes over a mile at Saratoga – another two and a quarter lengths back in third. The move up to open company gives both horses plenty to do.
Stakes debutante Saddle Up Jessie is coming off victory in a mile-sixteenth allowance at Laurel Park, and although she was much the best on that occasion it does not necessarily mean she is ready for this class hike. She could be out of her depth.
2023 Go For Wand Stakes Odds
This looks a good opportunity for GOOD SAM, who is unbeaten at this track, comes off a strong effort last time and is capable of further improvement.
|Odds by JazzSports
|Saddle Up Jessie
|Know It All Audrey
|Tizzy In The Sky