Zandon is the solid, even-money morning-line favorite in the horse racing odds to win the Cigar Mile Handicap Saturday afternoon at New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack. Zandon, trained by Chad Brown, has his first look at older foes after a 3-year-old campaign highlighted by a Grade I victory in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes. Zandon has hit the board in all eight starts and will be tough to ignore here when betting online. Joel Rosario and Zandon drew post position No.2 in the field of seven. Perhaps his chief competition is 6-year-old Mind Control (John Velazquez, post No. 7) making his final start.
Post time (ninth of 10 races) is 3:43 pm. ET
Two-Year-Olds Highlight Undercard
With the Cigar Mile the final Grade I race in 2022 on the New York circuit, the undercard features a pair of Grade IIs (2-year-olds) and a Grade III (fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and older). Forecast is saying rain begins at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Handicappers must consider an off-track. Now, some betting opportunities are present in the racebook. Note that all four stakes are televised (Fox Sports 2) as part of America’s Day at the Races.
The Grade II Demoiselle (Race 6, post time 2:16 p.m. ET). worth $250,000, is a 1⅛-mile test featuring 2-year-old fillies. There’s a 3-5 favorite in Julia Shining, making her second start. Luis Saez returns to town to ride (post No. 3) the Todd Pletcher trainee. She broke her maiden with an impressive off-the-pace score at seven furlongs, 71 Beyer speed figure in the process. The Curlin filly should have no trouble getting the distance. Foggy Night (post No. 1) has a chance as the controlling speed in the race, Trainer Butch Reid and jockey Paco Lopez are 12-of-their- last 46 when joining forces, While neither horses figures to be hampered by an off-track, it perhaps benefits Foggy Night as the one to catch.
The Grade II, $250,000 Remsen (Race 7, post time 2:44 p.m. ET) features the freshman boys, with 8-5 favorite Tuskegee Airmen (Saez, post No. 2) 2-for-2 after flying past all his rivals. Plenty of speed in the Remsen, so the John Servis-Tuskegee Airmen will again be in a position to prevail in off-the-pace fashion at the 1⅛-mile distance. All in the race have offered early speed except Dubyuhnell (Jose Ortiz, post No. 7). A fall-apart scenario with Tuskegee Airmen getting too close to a potentially hot pace means Dubyuhnell could be the beneficiary at a square price. Both have won on less-than-fast tracks in their brief careers.
Grade III Go For Wand (Race 8, 3:14 p.m. ET), a one-turn mile carrying a purse of $200,000, is by far the hardest to handicap among the stakes. Dr B (Irad Ortiz Jr., post No. 7), trained by Reid, tries eight furlongs (first time) after a 94 Beyer in a second-place finish over the Aqueduct strip. Maybe a good trip behind the speed. Bank Sting (Rosario, post No. 10). trained by John Terranova II, could also score at a price, with the outside draw a good spot to allow Rosario to see how this unfolds, then pounce on the tiring speed. Betsy Blue (Jose Lezcano, post No. 8), who finished a half-length behind Bank Sting in their last race, figures to be a price. Betsy Blue, trained by Linda Rice, is 3-of-5 with two seconds on off-tracks. Bank Sting is 4-of-7.
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
Zandon’s May Be Trip-Dependent
- Zandon may have to be closer to the pace in the Cigar (Race 9, 3:43 p.m. ET), something he’s done in three of his eight starts. Zandon worked four furlongs in 49⅕ seconds Nov. 26. “He had a fabulous work Saturday and he’s ready to go,” Brown told Bloodhorse. ” I love the way he’s training.” Zandon won’t have Epicenter, presumed divisional champion among 3-year-old males, to worry about. Zandon, carrying 120 pounds, has run triple-digit Beyers in his last three.
- Mind Control is the highweight at 122 pounds, and will be retired to stud after this 29th career start. He is the main danger to Zandon having won 11 races. He is 4-of-7 at Aqueduct, with two seconds and a third. Expect him to be prominent at the outset. “He likes Aqueduct, and tends to run well fresh, so we’ve been locked into this race for a while,” Pletcher said.
- Get Her Number (Saez, post No. 4) is California-based, as is trainer Peter Miller. Do not discount the 4-year-old carrying 120 pounds after winning a prep race against tough competition at Del Mar. Get Her Number would appreciate a fast pace in here.
Without an all-stakes Pick 4, rolling pick 3s and daily doubles could be the way to go.
- Race 6: Nos. 1,3
- Race 7: Nos. 2,7
- Race 8: Nos. 7,8,10
- Race 9: Nos. 2,4,7
Also, a win ticket on Get Her Number is attractive provided it’s at the 4-1 morning line or higher.
Post time is 11:50 a.m. ET.