Dec 4, 2020
News Image
Chelsea Durand Photo

Firenze Fire a gameday decision for Cigar Mile (G1)

by NYRA Press Office

  • Firenze Fire a gameday decision for Cigar Mile (G1)
  • Mr. Buff pumped up for Cigar Mile (G1)
  • Heavy rain could shelve Mind Control in Cigar Mile (G1)
  • Millefeuille attempts to pass the two-turn test in Demoiselle (G2)
  • Versatile Snapper Sinclair seeks breakthrough triumph in Cigar Mile (G1)
  • Cigar Mile Day to feature mandatory payout of Empire 6

Trainer Kelly Breen said Mr. Amore Stable's multiple graded-stakes winner Firenze Fire may look for other options should Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile be contested over a sloppy main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“He’s doing well but right now the main concern is the weather. If the track is sloppy, I don’t think we’re going to run,” said Breen. “There are a couple of other options for him.

“But if the rain misses us, we’re running,” added Breen. “He’s ready to go.”

Firenze Fire has won at one mile on three occasions, including the 2017 Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont; the 2018 Grade 3 Dwyer on Big Sandy; and the 2018 Jerome at the Big A.

Last out, the 5-year-old Poseidon's Warrior bay rallied from 11th to finish third in the six-furlong Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland Racetrack under Jose Lezcano.

Breen said he expects the stretch out in distance to help his horse.

“I do, especially off his closing race at the Breeders’ Cup. I think it should not be a problem,” said Breen.

Breen took over training duties for Firenze Fire earlier this year and has saddled the horse to a record of two wins from six starts, including Grade 2 scores in the True North on June 27 and Vosburgh Invitational on September 26, both contested on a fast Belmont main track.

Two of Firenze Fire's losses for Breen came in Grade 1 events - the Runhappy Carter Handicap at Belmont and the Forego presented by America's Best Racing at Saratoga - on sloppy tracks.

Lezcano retains the mount from post 4.

The prestigious Cigar Mile 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.

Breen will saddle John Bowers, Jr.’s New Jersey homebred Pickin’ Time in the Remsen.

The son of Stay Thirsty posted a pair of good efforts at Monmouth Park in September when second in the two-turn one-mile Sapling ahead of a score in the six-furlong Smoke Glacken.

Last out, he notched a powerful 2 1/4-length score in the Grade 3 Nashua on November 8 at the Big A.

Breen said the stretch out to nine furlongs should suit Pickin’ Time.

“He’s a big, strong horse and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t,” said Breen. “He’s already run well at two turns, so I think he’s quite capable of going a mile and an eighth.”

Breen will be represented by Mr. Amore Stable’s New York homebred It’s Gravy in Sunday’s $250,000 NYSSS Great White Way at seven furlongs for eligible New York-sired juveniles.

The Freud bay, still a maiden, has hit the board in all three starts including a third in the six-furlong Aspirant on October 6 at Finger Lakes.

“We could run in a maiden special weight, but if he doesn’t win this that race will still be there at the end of December,” said Breen. “So, let’s run against the New York stallion horses and give it a shot.

“The most significant change in the program for him will be first time gelding,” added Breen. “We’ll see if that gives him a bit of an attitude adjustment. He’s been training well.”


Mr. Buff pumped up for Cigar Mile (G1)

Mr. Buff, bred in New York by owners Chester and Mary Broman, will make his 41st career start overall in Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile. The John Kimmel trainee has flourished at the Big A 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.

“Mr. Buff is ready to rock and roll,” said Kimmel. “He has a very consistent record at Aqueduct. He’s won eight races there. I don’t think the rain would bother him at all.

“His last time going a mile at Aqueduct was pretty impressive when he won the Haynesfield,” added Kimmel. “If he can replicate that, he’ll be in good shape.”

The Cigar Mile will mark Mr. Buff’s sixth attempt in graded company. Last year, the 6-year-old Friend Or Foe chestnut ran ninth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds; seventh in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga and tenth in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs.

This summer, Mr. Buff finished fifth in both the Grade 2 Suburban and Grade 1 Whitney at the Spa before returning to winning form last out in the Empire Classic against fellow state-breds on October 24 at Belmont Park.

“I think he’s cycling back into form if you look at his numbers,” said Kimmel. “I don’t think he was in top shape for the Whitney and Suburban. For whatever reason, the summer months just didn’t suit him very well.

“As for the Clark, the pace was extremely quick that day, but he’s ran those types of pace figures before and stayed better than he did that day,” added Kimmel. “We’ll be on his favorite track in the Cigar Mile, going a distance at which he’s run well and facing a group in a Grade 1 race that’s maybe not as tough as it has been in the past.”

Kimmel said Junior Alvarado, who retains the mount from post 5, is likely to dictate terms with Mr. Buff.

“He seems to run his best races on the lead and looking at the race, I think he’s the controlling pace in the race,” said Kimmel.

Kimmel will be represented by a pair of stakes starters on Sunday, Closing Day of the 18-day Big A fall meet, with Pacific Gale in the $100,000 Garland of Roses at six furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up and Jill’s a Hot Mess in the $250,000 NYSSS Fifth Avenue at seven furlongs for eligible New York-sired juvenile fillies.

Tobey Morton’s Pacific Gale, who boasts a record of 26-3-6-4, won the 2017 Sorority at Monmouth Park. She has hit the board in five graded-stakes events in her career and Kimmel said a turnback in distance may help her overcome the Charlie Baker-trained Honor Way, who bested her by 4 ½-lengths last out in the seven-furlong Pumpkin Pie on November 1 at Belmont.

“She’s a bridesmaid all the time, but she’s coming into the race in good shape,” said Kimmel. “She needs to turn the tide on Charlie Baker’s horse, but maybe three-quarters will be a little better for her. She’s doing well right now and she loves the slop.”

Kimmel said Pacific Gale will retire at the end of the year.

“She’ll be bred this winter to Not This Time, so we only have a race or two left with her,” said Kimmel.

Jill’s a Hot Mess, a daughter of Laoban owned by Morton with America’s Pastime Stables, will look to graduate in style when making her first start for Kimmel.

The bay, bred in the Empire State by Michael J. Galvin, finished second last out in a six-furlong state-bred maiden sprint at Saratoga on August 19 for former conditioner Eric Guillot. 

“She’s well bred and she’s doing extremely well,” said Kimmel. “We’ve got her in a good spot physically and mentally right now and I think she has enough speed that she should find herself fairly close.”

Jill’s a Hot Mess worked a half-mile in company in 48.09 seconds, fourth best of 139 efforts at the distance, on November 29 on Big Sandy in company with 3-year-old gelding Ernie Banker.

Kimmel said the filly handled her company with aplomb.

“She worked in 48 and out in a minute and change last weekend in company against an older horse,” said Kimmel.


Heavy rain could shelve Mind Control in Cigar Mile (G1)

Mind Control won’t be doing his best Gene Kelly impersonation if the expected rainy forecast comes to fruition for Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile, with trainer Gregg Sacco saying on Friday that inclement weather will likely cause him to scratch out of the test for 3-year-olds and up that highlights four-graded stakes over Aqueduct Racetrack’s main track.

The last two times Mind Control has run over sloppy tracks have not resulted in good efforts, with the 4-year-old Stay Thirsty colt running eighth in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Forego on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course and sixth in the Grade 1 Carter on June 6 at Belmont Park. Both of those efforts saw Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez try to cajole the five-time graded stakes-winner to no avail.

“It’s just not in the game plan for him,” Sacco said. “The few times we did try it, they were just nightmares. Johnny said he spins his wheels and just doesn’t get a hold of the track.”

The multiple Grade 1-winner is coming off a ninth-place effort in the seven-furlong Lafayette on November 7 at Keeneland. But Sacco said he has trained forwardly at his Belmont base since then, including a four-furlong work in 48.85 seconds on Sunday.

"He’s been right on cue and has been full of himself and he really loves training at Belmont,” Sacco said. “His energy level was high. We were happy with everything coming into this race.”

Mind Control has thrived at the Big A, winning four of his five races with a runner-up effort in the other contest. Three of his graded stakes scores have come at the Ozone Park-based track, including the 2019 Grade 3 Bay Shore and this year’s edition of the Grade 3 Toboggan and Grade 3 Tom Fool.

“It’s unfortunate because he’s training as good as ever and came out of the last race well,” Sacco said. “We were just hoping for a fast track and a little wetness on the track isn’t the end of the world, but if the forecast holds true, it doesn’t look like we’ll be running tomorrow.”

Owned by Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables, Mind Control is 7-2-3 in 17 career starts with earnings of more than $1.04 million.

“Everyone’s in the same boat. It’s part of the game and as trainers we take the good with the bad,” Sacco said. “The main thing is that he’s 100 percent sound and his weight is good and his coat is good and he’s going to run as a 5-year-old, so we look forward to that.”

Sacco said he hasn’t picked out a definitive spot for his seasonal debut after the near year, but said a return engagement for the Grade 1 Carter, where he ran sixth in June at Belmont, is a possibility.

“I think the first big goal of 2021 is the Carter,” Sacco said.

Mind Control drew post 2 in the nine-horse field with Velazquez slated to ride. He is one of four horses listed as 20-1 on the morning line, joining Snapper Sinclair, Majestic Dunhill and Bon Raison.


Millefeuille attempts to pass the two-turn test in Demoiselle (G2)

Juddmonte Farms’ Kentucky homebred Millefeuille showed talent in her last out maiden victory and will take things up to graded stakes company for Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle going nine furlongs over the Aqueduct main track.

The 1 1/8-mile outing for juvenile fillies is a 10-4-2-1 qualifier for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in 2021, which Juddmonte Farms won in 2001 with Flute for the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the daughter of multiple-champion producing stallion and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin was an impressive runner-up in her September 26 debut going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park to American West, who exited that effort to run second in the Tempted.

Last out, on October 23 at Belmont, Millefeuille graduated in style with a four-length victory after securing a close-range spot in fourth along the rail in the tightly-packed field. The talented bay found an opening at the quarter pole and asserted command to draw off in style under jockey Joel Rosario.

Millefeuille will square off against seven others in the Demoiselle, including fellow Curlin progeny Malathaat, a recent impressive winner of the Tempted on November 6 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“It definitely was a nice debut,” Juddmonte Farms general manager Garrett O’Rourke said. “You always want these horses to have ability, but it’s nice to see them know where the line is and have some try in them. She ran hard to the line. Todd’s filly looks like she’s got some possible superstar potential and so we’ll probably have to run a little harder this time around.”

Millefeuille is out of Bandana, an unraced War Front mare whose Grade 1-winning dam Honest Lady also produced Grade 1-winner and producer First Defence as well as stakes winner Honest Mischief. She is a direct descendant of prolific broodmare Toussaud, who produced Grade 1 winners such as Chester House, Chiselling, Decarchy and multiple champion producing sire Empire Maker.

“Curlin is much bigger than the mare,” O’Rourke said. “When you do these matings, you hope for something in the middle. It’s a nice blend of the mom, who is by War Front and from the Toussaud line, and she has that Curlin length to her. She won’t be as big as Curlin, but she has more stretch than her mother. Curlin was a free-racing horse and she looks like she has that as well.”

In addition to Millefeuille and Malathaat, Curlin will also be represented by Woodslane Farm’s Malibu Curl for trainer Tom Albertrani.

“She’s definitely bred for it,” O’Rourke said. “There are three Curlin fillies in the race, so I hope we’re the better one.”

Rosario, aboard for both of Millefeuille’s career starts, will return to the saddle in attempt of his second Demoiselle triumph.

O’Rourke said no plans have been made yet for newly-crowned Grade 1 winner Viadera, who won the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar last Sunday under Rosario for trainer Chad Brown.

The daughter of Bated Breath, who previously won the De La Rose at Saratoga and Grade 3 Noble Damsel at Belmont Park, notched her third straight win running down stable mate Blowout by the slimmest of margins.

“She’s a very durable filly,” O’Rourke said. “I was looking at her form from when she was back in Ireland and her wins have been close ones. She seems to be one who knows where the wire is. I think Joel’s style of turf riding is patience and they might be a perfect match.”


Versatile Snapper Sinclair seeks breakthrough triumph in Cigar Mile (G1)

Bloom Racing Stable’s versatile Snapper Sinclair has covered quite a bit of ground in a 28-race career, but an ultimate test awaits the 5-year-old City Zip bay in Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Snapper Sinclair has amassed over $1.3 million in lifetime earnings and is a two-time stakes winner on grass at Kentucky Downs winning the Turf Showcase Juvenile in September 2017 as well as last year’s Tourist Mile and has been stakes-placed on dirt seven times, with three of those being losing margins of less than a length.

Snapper Sinclair makes a return to the main track after a trio of starts on turf, including a runner-up finish to Flavius in the Tourist Mile and a third in a turf allowance at Churchill Downs on November 5. But with a clear capability of performing on a high level on dirt, owner Jeffrey Bloom is confident that Snapper Sinclair can make a good showing and outrun his 20-1 morning line odds.

“He’s been quite the durable, versatile horse,” Bloom said. “We’ve had the Cigar Mile on our radar for a while now and the setup of the race could play to his stretch. Obviously, he hasn’t run at Aqueduct before, but he’s coming off two incredibly strong races. He ran a great race at Kentucky Downs and he didn’t love the conditions in his follow-up race at Churchill Downs, so it’s a better race than it might have looked.”

Snapper Sinclair has displayed tactical versatility as well, which Bloom said could also play to his advantage.

“If you look at his resume, he’s been up on the pace and he’s come from behind. He just needs a fair set up, in that there’s no bias one way or another. He can adjust to any situation out of the gate, all he needs is a fair playing track,” Bloom said. “At the end of the day, they have to show up and he does that. It’s a tough spot, but he’s doing well. It looks like there’s some rain in the forecast, which should be an advantage.”

Snapper Sinclair’s versatility appears to run in the family, as his late sire City Zip produced runners in multiple categories ranging from dirt sprints to turf routes.

“People started realizing that a little late,” Bloom said. “His progeny have done well on dirt and turf, one turn and two turns and Snapper has done all of that.”

Bred in Kentucky by K & G Stables, Snapper Sinclair is out of the graded stakes placed Yes It’s True mare True Addiction, and was purchased for $180,000 from the Randy Miles consignment at the 2017 OBS April Sale. 

Jockey Manny Franco will be aboard Snapper Sinclair for the first time.


Cigar Mile Day to feature mandatory payout of Empire 6

Cigar Mile Day on Saturday at Aqueduct will feature a mandatory payout of the New York Racing Association’s Empire 6 wager, which carried a jackpot of $48,311 heading into Friday’s card at the Big A.

The Empire 6 will start with Race 5 [1:30 p.m. Eastern post time] for Saturday’s 10-race card, with the sequence encompassing three graded stakes, including the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand in Race 6 and the two concluding races with the Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle for juvenile fillies in Race 9 and the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up in the finale.

The Empire 6 requires the bettor to select the first-place finisher of the final six races of the day's card. On non-mandatory payout days, if one unique ticket exists, then 100 percent of the net pool, plus the jackpot carryover if applicable, will be paid to the winner. If there is no unique wager selecting the first-place finisher in all six races, then 75 percent of the day's net pool will be distributed to those who selected the first-place finisher in the greatest number of races. The remainder will be added into the jackpot and carried to the next day's Empire 6.

The Big A fall meet will conclude on Sunday, December 6 with a stakes-laden card that offers a pair of rich New York Stallion Stakes Series races, including the Great White Way for 2-year-olds and the Fifth Avenue for juvenile fillies, with purses of $250,000 each. Also featured on Closing Day is the $100,000 Garland of Roses at six furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Live racing action will then continue with the 56-day Aqueduct winter meet which kicks off Thursday, December 10 and runs through Sunday, March 28, offering 42 stakes races worth $4.57 million in purses.

For more information, please visit

All News Stakes Advance Stakes Recap Headlines Notes Features

More Notes