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Groupie Doll with Rajiv Maragh aboard

The 24th running of the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile Handicap brings together a field of seven, led by the ultra-consistent filly Groupie Doll, who exits a dominant four and one-half length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint just three weeks ago. Having won five straight graded stakes races in a row by wide margins, Groupie Doll could reward her backers once again. Of the males lined up to face Groupie Doll, perhaps Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Stay Thirsty is to be noted first as he set the pace from the start in that mile and one-quarter test before coming up a head short on the wire, beating subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned in the process. Buffum and Associate just finished first and third, respectively, in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap, which might be notable because in 2010, Bold Ruler runner-up Jersey Town posted the 34 to 1 upset in the Cigar Mile. Coil won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship last month then could only manage a seventh place result in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint three weeks ago. He has the potential to turn it around in this situation after a rare poor effort when finishing lower than third for only the second time in his 12 race career. Hymn Book finished second in last year’s Cigar Mile then in his next start, in February of this year, won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, before five straight losses. However, Hymn Book did return to winning form in his most recent race when victorious in the Frank “Pancho” Martin Stakes last month so has potential to run competitively versus this field. Last but not least, Jersey Town, as previously noted, won this race in 2010 and even though his most recent effort was a mediocre fifth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, he did win the Grade 2 Kelso Stakes prior to that so is yet another that adds to the depth of quality in this year’s Cigar Mile.

Groupie Doll earned a career best 120 ™ Equibase® Speed Figure when easily winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint three weeks ago in California. 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. Likewise, Groupie Doll is not facing males for the first time in her career either. In her first start of the year in January she led late and settled for second, beaten just three-quarters of a length. Three races later, Groupie Doll began a five race streak of graded stakes wins, with winning margins between three and seven lengths. Likely to have a lively early pace (courtesy of Buffum) to set up her late kick, Groupie Doll appears very capable of winning her sixth graded stakes in a row to take this year’s Cigar Mile Handicap.

Buffum has potential to post the upset if he can secure an easy lead on slower than average fractions, just as he did last month when victorious in the Bold Ruler Handicap, giving the closers little opportunity to run him down late while earning a career best 113 ™ Figure. Returning from more than eight months off in May of this year, Buffum won his comeback race by eight lengths at this one-turn mile trip then ran poorly when asked to run a mile and one-eighth in the Suburban Handicap. Returned to one turn, he won the Bold Ruler, and noting that in 2010 the Bold Ruler runner-up (Jersey Town) won this Cigar Mile Handicap in his next start, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Buffum can improve once again and do the same thing.

Stay Thirsty had not done much since winning the Travers Stakes in August of last year, with just one runner-up effort in a non-graded stakes to his credit. However, that all changed in his most recent race when coming up a head short of victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at the end of September, with a 121 ™ that is on par with the figure Groupie Doll earned in her most recent race. Furthermore, with Gold Cup winner Flat Out coming back to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and with Stay Thirsty finishing five and one-half lengths clear of subsequent Classic winner Fort Larned, it could very well be that the Gold Cup was a productive race that could produce another next-out winner in Stay Thirsty.

The rest of the field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Associate (110), Coil (110), Hymn Book (119), and Jersey Town (117)., 

My Selections:

Groupie Doll


Stay Thirsty

$350,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1)

Saturday, November 24, Race 8, Aqueduct, 3:20 p.m. EST

One Mile, 3-year-olds and older







Stay Thirsty

R. Dominguez


T A Pletcher



J. Velazquez


R E Dutrow Jr.



E. Castro


T Albertrani


Jersey Town

J. Castellano


B Tagg


Hymn Book

J. Rosario


C R McGaughey III



M. Garcia


B Baffert


Groupie Doll

R. Maragh


W Bradley

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).

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