Elite field coming together for Cigar Mile
Ozone Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents and runner-up Golden Ticket along with Woodward champ Alpha are all being pointed toward the $500,000 Cigar Mile on Nov. 30 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
With incentives being offered, the purse doubles should Goldencents start and Alpha would be competing for a $750,000 gross purse.
"That's sweet. You have to love the purse incentive, " said Goldencents' trainer Doug O'Neill.
Goldencents set the entire pace in winning the Dirt Mile with Alpha finishing eighth last Friday at Santa Anita.
"He came out of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in great shape," O'Neill said about 3-year-old colt. "In talking with the owners, it seems he can bounce right back in the Cigar Mile. It's hard to get caught up (in the year-end voting for divisional honors), but when you have a horse that talented it's great to be able to showcase him on the East coast."
Goldencents won the Sham Stakes and Santa Anita Derby early this year with three straight second-place finishes in the Bing Crosby, Pat O'Brien and Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes.
In 12 career starts he has five wins and four seconds for $1.99 million.
Golden Ticket finished less than three lengths behind Goldencents in the Dirt Mile. Trained by Ken McPeek, the 4-year-old is best known as having finished in a dead heat with Alpha in last year's Travers at Saratoga.
"It's not definite, but that's where we're leaning," McPeek said about going in the Cigar. "We think he's really good at a mile and if all goes smoothly, we'll head that way."
Owned by Magic City Thoroughbred Partners, Golden Ticket is also being considered for the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.
"We would like another Grade I for him," McPeek said from Louisville. "But we're not ruling out the race here. We'll nominate him."
The colt has won five of 20 lifetime starts with six seconds for $1,091,323.
Alpha, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Godolphin Racing, has earnings which total $1,772,500 with six wins in 17 career starts.
"We had been looking at it even before the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile," McLaughlin said, "it was a month in between (the two races). That race didn't seem to take much out of him. He stepped back right at the start and lost all chance at the start, especially with the track being a little speed-favoring. He was last throughout and passed a few."
The 4-year-old colt has victories at Aqueduct in the Count Fleet and Withers, and was second in last year's Wood Memorial behind Gemologist.
11/08 17:11:51 ET