2023 Cigar Mile Handicap Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Cigar Mile Aqueduct NYRA Coastal Mission Everso Mischievous Senor Buscador Cascais Dr Ardito High Oak Three Technique Offaly Cool Castle Chaos Accretive Hoist the Gold Pipeline Cheat Sheet
The field for the 2021 Cigar Mile wheels into the homestretch, with eventual winner Americanrevolution (center, white jockey cap and silks) angling to the outside of the pacesetter in preparation for his closing charge. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The $500,000, Grade 2 Cigar Mile Handicap Dec. 2 at Aqueduct is the featured race on a four-stakes card at the Big A on the final Saturday of the track’s fall meet. The day will also include the Grade 3 Go For Wand Handicap for fillies and mares and a pair of juvenile features, with the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes hosting 2-year-old colts and geldings and the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes enlisting 2-year-old fillies.

In its history, the Cigar Mile has always been an important late-season race and it has had an impact on the Eclipse Awards on several occasions, whether it was in the champion older dirt male, sprint, or 3-year-old divisions. The race was first held in 1988 when it was called the NYRA Mile. Forty Niner won the inaugural edition for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens. It was subsequently renamed to honor the 1994 winner, Hall of Famer Cigar. Other notable winners through the years have included Quiet American (1990), Rubiano (1991), Congaree (2002, 2003), Discreet Cat (2006), Kodiak Kowboy (2009), Flat Out (2013), Tonalist (2015), and Maximum Security (2019). Mind Control won last year’s edition in the final race of a fine career that saw the horse earn more than $2 million.

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The Cigar Mile will be televised on FS2 during NYRA’s broadcast of “America’s Day at the Races” with a schedule post time of 4:12 p.m. ET. Read on for more information about the entrants in Saturday’s one-mile race for horses 3 years old and older.

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1. Coastal Mission (12-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Arnaldo Bocachica

Trainer: Jeff Runco

Owner: Jeff Runco

Career record: 16 starts – 11 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $566,653

Earnings per start: $35,416

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Great Notion – Smart Crowd, by Crowd Pleaser

Age: 4

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding is an intriguing wild card in the Cigar Mile, as he ships in from his birth state of West Virginia having never made a start at a NYRA track. Coastal Mission also comes in riding a six-race winning streak at Charles Town, all of the victories save one coming by 2 ½ lengths or more. Having toyed with local competition, it makes sense for his connections to try him at a much higher level, and at the very least he figures be a pace factor in the Cigar Mile as three of his six recent wins came in gate-to-wire fashion. He made his first career start beyond seven furlongs in his latest win, controlling the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Sam Huff West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Stakes and romping by 5 ¾ lengths as the 1-5 favorite. Needless to say, Coastal Mission won’t go off at anywhere near those odds in the Cigar Mile – 10-1 or higher seems more likely – but he should not be overlooked. Charles Town-based jockey Arnaldo Bocachica, who has ridden Costal Mission in all but one of his prior starts, retains the mount Saturday and figures to be aggressive riding him from the outset when they break from the rail post position.

Bet Coastal Mission in the Cigar Mile

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

2. Everso Mischievous (4-1)

Jockey: Cristian Torres

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Qatar Racing

Career record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $524,640

Earnings per start: $87,440

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Ever So Clever, by Medaglia d’Oro

Age: 3

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Three-year-old Everso Mischievous projects as a leading win contender in the Cigar Mile as he enters on a three-race winning streak, including back-to-back stakes scores. The Into Mischief colt has fired a big shot in every race, and has been very consistent in his running style as he’s tracked just off of the early leader in each of his four most recent starts before making a move for the lead in early stretch. After winning the seven-furlong Harrods Creek Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths at Churchill Downs in September, Everso Mischievous shipped to the Belmont at the Big A meet for the Oct. 28 Forty Niner Stakes contested at one mile and held off closing bids by Dr Ardito and Accretive to prevail by a half-length. He’s back at the same track and distance for the Cigar Mile and will also face a tougher field with the likes of Senor Buscador and Hoist the Gold joining Dr Ardito and Accretive. Everso Mischievous also only has one triple-digit Equibase Speed Figure in his career – that coming in the Forty Niner in which he earned a 104 – which places him behind several other Cigar Mile starters. But this colt has answered every call so far and stands a solid chance of picking up his third stakes win in a row in this prestigious race if he can keep it up. Cristian Torres, who paired up with Everso Mischievous to win the Harrods Creek and Forty Niner, comes in from Kentucky to ride.

Bet Everso Mischievous in the Cigar Mile

Eclipse Sportswire

3. Senor Buscador (7-2)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Todd Fincher

Owner: Joe Peacock Jr.

Career record: 15 starts – 6 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $823,427

Earnings per start: $54,895

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: Mineshaft – Rose’s Desert, by Desert God

Age: 5

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hard-knocking Senor Buscador could go off as the post-time favorite in Saturday’s Cigar Mile, despite the facts that a) he comes in on a three-race losing streak; and b) he’ll be making his first career start in New York. The well-traveled 5-year-old will be taking a significant step down on the class ladder after starts in the FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic Stakes, Awesome Again Stakes, and most recently Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4. He competed well in each of those two-turn events, finishing fourth, third, and seventh, respectively, and those starts followed a career-best effort back in late July when he rolled through the stretch to take the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap at Del Mar by 1 ¼ lengths. As noted, Senor Buscador has never raced at Aqueduct, but he flashed talent competing at the Cigar Mile’s one-mile, one-turn configuration back in October of 2022 when he won the Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs by 1 ¼ lengths (Three Technique was third in that race). He’ll need a fast pace to set up his closing kick Saturday, and if he gets it look for Senor Buscador and first-time rider Junior Alvarado to join the fray in midstretch with a good chance to win. Alvarado won the 2013 Cigar Mile aboard Flat Out.

Bet Senor Buscador in the Cigar Mile

4. Cascais (20-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Three Chimneys Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $78,150

Earnings per start: $26,050

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Reve d’Amour, by Warrior’s Reward

Age: 3

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Cascais figures to carry the longest odds of trainer Chad Brown’s three Cigar Mile starters as he makes his stakes debut after three career starts and only one race this year at age 3. The Into Mischief colt closed out his juvenile season over a year ago with a win in a one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct, scoring by 1 ¼ lengths in a race where 2023 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winner and Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve second betting choice Tapit Trice was third. Cascais did not start again until Oct. 21 of this year in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at the Belmont at the Big A meet, and he finished an encouraging second after such a long layoff, setting a pressured pace and yielding late to check in three-quarters of a length behind a rallying Signator. He will need to bump up the 103 Equibase Speed Figure earned in that race by around 8-10 points to have a chance at the upset Saturday, but it’s not out of the question as there’s still plenty of untapped potential with this colt. Brown, who also starts Accretive and Dr Ardito in the Cigar Mile, is seeking his third win after Connect and Patternrecognition won in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Jose Ortiz was aboard Patternrecognition in 2018.  

Bet Cascais in the Cigar Mile

Chelsea Durand/NYRA

5. Dr Ardito (8-1)

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owners: Michael Caruso and Michael Dubb

Career record: 12 starts – 7 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $439,850

Earnings per start: $36,654

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Pedigree: Liam’s Map – Delightfully So, by Indian Charlie

Age: 5

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: New York-bred Dr Ardito figures to be a middle-tier win candidate in the Cigar Mile as he’s shown enough ability to potentially get home first with his best effort but has also been inconsistent. He’s won three of seven starts at age 5, including two listed stakes, one at Aqueduct back in the spring and the other at Saratoga in August when he rallied from off of the pace to prevail. He turned in a puzzling sixth-place effort in the Sept. 9 Parx Dirt Mile Stakes held on a sloppy track, finishing 27 ¼ lengths behind the winner, but rebounded to just miss by a half-length to Everso Mischievous in the one-mile Forty Niner Stakes at Belmont at the Big A last out. That race was held on the same dirt track that the Cigar Mile will be contested on Saturday, and overall Dr Ardito is 5-for-7 at Aqueduct. He faces Everso Mischievous, Forty Niner third-place finisher and stablemate Accretive, and several other tough foes in the Cigar Mile, but this gelding is a must-use entrant for exacta and trifecta tickets with regular rider Manny Franco aboard. Brown won the Cigar Mile in 2016 with Connect and in 2018 with Patternrecognition.

Bet Dr Ardito in the Cigar Mile

Eclipse Sportswire

6. High Oak (20-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: LRE Racing and JEH Racing

Career record: 12 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $315,215

Earnings per start: $26,268

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Pedigree: Gormley – Champagne Sue, by Elusive Quality

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: High Oak turned heads in his first two starts back in summer 2021 at Saratoga, winning his maiden and then the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Miller Lite for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The then-2-year-old next finished a distant fourth in the Hopeful Stakes at the Spa, however, and he has added nine more defeats to his résumé in the two-plus years since. His last three starts this year dating back to August have all come in graded stakes, with a third-place finish in the Forego Stakes at Saratoga, a fifth-place showing in the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont at the Big A, and most recently a runner-up finish in the six-furlong Bold Ruler Stakes Oct. 27, also at Belmont at the Big A. High Oak is still competitive at this level, but he was still 2 ¾ lengths behind Durante in the Bold Ruler and overall his Equibase Speed Figures have plateaued in the mid-90s going back to his juvenile success in 2021 – and that won’t be enough to get him to the winner’s circle Saturday. Mott has won this race three times, starting in 1994 with the horse who would subsequently be honored in its name – the great Cigar. Mott also won in 2011 with To Honor and Serve and in 2013 with Flat Out. Jockey Luis Saez has won two of the past four Cigar Miles, aboard Maximum Security in 2019 and Americanrevolution in 2021.

Bet High Oak in the Cigar Mile

Eclipse Sportswire

7. Three Technique (8-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Jason Cook

Owners: Eric Grindley, David Miller, Howard Preuss, and John Werner

Career record: 33 starts – 6 wins – 6 seconds – 8 thirds

Career earnings: $867,637

Earnings per start: $26,292

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Mr Speaker – Nite in Rome, by Harlan’s Holiday

Age: 6

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: With 33 career starts, 6-year-old Three Technique is the “old man” in the Cigar Mile field, and he could be overlooked in wagering against this competitive group. He’s won twice and finished third twice in six starts this year, and arguably ran the best race of his career back on July 1 when he took the seven-furlong John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park by 3 ¾ lengths. Since then, he finished a late-running third for the second consecutive year in the Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs, held at the same one-mile, one-turn configuration as the Cigar Mile, and most recently he was last of eight in the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Three Technique will take a step down in class Saturday and fits in much better against this Cigar Mile field. Like several other entrants, he’s competed against superstar Cody’s Wish before, and nearly defeated him back in July 2022 in a one-mile stakes at Churchill Downs. This veteran is certainly capable of hitting the board in the Cigar Mile with his best effort, and potential odds of 8-1 or higher make him worth considering as an upset win candidate as well. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano rode Three Technique to victory in the John A. Nerud Stakes and gets back aboard Saturday. Castellano won back-to-back editions of the Cigar Mile in 2016 on Connect and 2017 on Sharp Azteca.

Bet Three Technique in the Cigar Mile

Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO

8. Offaly Cool (20-1)

Jockey: Abner Adorno

Trainer: Jacinto Solis

Owner: Lawrence Rebbecchi Jr.

Career record: 10 starts – 4 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $165,750

Earnings per start: $16,575

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Kantharos – Assured, by Empire Maker

Age: 3

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding joins Coastal Mission as Cigar Mile contenders who are shipping in to test tougher competition, and like that foe he is also a front-runner. Offaly Cool enters off of a dominant 4 ¾-length win in the one-mile M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile Stakes Oct. 17 at Parx Racing, where he shook off early pace pressure and extended his margin through the stretch. He earned a 111 Equibase Speed Figure, which represented a jump of 19 points from a 92 his prior race, a one-mile and 70-yard allowance-optional claimer Sept. 4 at Parx where he could not finish the job and lost by a nose after opening up a big lead on the front end. Offaly Cool could very well regress off of his impressive October win and there’s nothing in his earlier races that suggests he’ll be much of a factor in the Cigar Mile. Kendrick Carmouche rode Offaly Cool in his stakes win at Parx but jockey Abner Adorno, who rides in several East Coast states including Pennsylvania and New York, is aboard Saturday and he’s 2-for-4 on the gelding. Look for Offaly Cool to duel with Coastal Mission for the early lead, with possibly Cascais and Pipeline in the mix as well, but it’s tough to see him pulling off a front-running upset.

Bet Offaly Cool in the Cigar Mile

9. Castle Chaos (30-1)

Jockey: Dylan Davis

Trainer: Robert Falcone Jr.

Owners: Sanford Goldfarb, Nice Guys Stables, and Beast Mode Racing

Career record: 12 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $220,460

Earnings per start: $18,372

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Palace Malice – Queen Victoria, by Flatter

Age: 5

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding makes his stakes debut in career start number 13 after compiling a decent race record competing mainly on the NYRA circuit. He’s recovered from a dip in performance during late 2022 with a solid 5-year-old season, hitting the board in all five of his starts and kicking clear to win his most recent race, a one-mile allowance-optional claiming event Nov. 10 at Aqueduct, by 1 ¼ lengths. Castle Chaos earned a 102 Equibase Speed Figure in that victory, five points better than his previous best figure and nine points higher than his top figure in 2023. That makes him a longshot in this Cigar Mile field who could move up late to fill out the superfecta if he gets a good trip and the early pace is fast enough.

Bet Castle Chaos in the Cigar Mile

Eclipse Sportswire

10. Accretive (4-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Klaravich Stables

Career record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $319,750

Earnings per start: $45,679

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Practical Joke – Mallory Street, by Street Sense

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Accretive should be forwardly placed, sitting just off of the front rank of horses, in the Cigar Mile and that running style plus his good current form makes him a leading win threat. He’s hit the board in all four of his 2023 starts, winning his first two in allowance races at Saratoga (going six furlongs and one mile) and, more recently, he ran a solid second behind possible Horse of the Year Cody’s Wish in the seven-furlong Vosburgh Stakes and then third by a half-length behind Cigar Mile foes Everso Mischievous and Dr Ardito in the one-mile Forty Niner Stakes, both at Belmont at the Big A (Belmont Park’s fall meet held at Aqueduct). He was only a nose behind stablemate Dr Ardito and was the 8-5 favorite in the Forty Niner, and if he can improve slightly off of that effort and cycle back to the 110 Equibase Speed Figure he posted in the Vosburgh, Accretive stands a chance to pick up his first career stakes win for trainer Chad Brown, who in addition to this gelding and Dr Ardito also starts Cascais in the Cigar Mile. Brown won this race in 2016 with Connect and in 2018 with Patternrecognition, who was co-owned by Klaravich Stables. Reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is seeking his first win in the Cigar Mile.

Bet Accretive in the Cigar Mile

Eclipse Sportswire

11. Hoist the Gold (8-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Dream Team One Racing Stable

Career record: 25 starts – 4 wins – 6 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $844,547

Earnings per start: $33,782

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Mineshaft – Tacit Approval, by Tapit

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: It’s anyone’s guess how this veteran will run in the Cigar Mile – will he recapture the form from two starts back that earned him a berth in the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint, or run flat as he did in that $2 million race when defeated by six lengths? Hoist the Gold unleashed a career-best effort in the six-furlong Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes on Oct. 6 at Keeneland, sitting in third early close behind the leaders before taking command in the stretch and holding off Nakatomi to win by three quarters of a length. In the Qatar Racing Sprint at Santa Anita Park, however, he had no response when asked for his best and ended up ahead of only two horses. Overall, the 4-year-old Mineshaft colt has competed against some of the best sprinters and milers in North America over the past couple of years, including finishing second to Cody’s Wish last May in the Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Ford. As such, he’ll get class relief in an edition of the Cigar Mile bereft of superstars – but with that being said, Hoist the Gold is far too inconsistent to endorse as a win candidate, especially since he’s only raced at one mile or longer three times in 25 starts and was unplaced in all three. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez got aboard Hoist the Gold for the first time two starts back and piloted him to victory in the Phoenix Stakes, and stayed on him for his Breeders’ Cup attempt. Velazquez won last year’s Cigar Mile on Mind Control and also won on Tonalist in 2011 and Left Bank back in 2001.

Bet Hoist the Gold in the Cigar Mile

Coady Photography

12. Pipeline (15-1)

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Cherie DeVaux

Owners: John Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock Services

Career record: 13 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $337,400

Earnings per start: $25,954

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Pedigree: Speightstown – Vivo Per Lei, by Empire Maker

Age: 5

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This 5-year-old Speightstown horse makes his first start for trainer Cherie DeVaux after making little impact through three starts so far this year with original trainer Chad Brown. He showed a lot of promise for Brown back in 2021-’22 winning twice and posting a solid third-place finish behind Cody’s Wish and Jackie’s Warrior in last year’s Forego Stakes, but Pipeline has finished sixth, fourth, and last of eight in his three 2023 starts, the most recent of those when contesting the one-turn, 1 1/8-mile Woodward Stakes at Belmont at the Big A on Oct. 1. Pipeline has been training well for DeVaux at Keeneland over the past month, and his new trainer is having a breakout year. Still, even if he is able to somehow recapture his previous top form, Pipeline projects as a trifecta filler at best. New York-based rider Jose Lezcano won the 2011 Cigar Mile aboard To Honor and Serve.

Bet Pipeline in the Cigar Mile

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