Cigar Mile field taking shape

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Multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control is to join the likes of top contenders Performer and Firenze Fire in the intended line-up for the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on December 5th.

The Gregg Sacco-trained Mind Control worked on the Belmont Park dirt training track this past weekend in preparation for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

A four-year-old son of 2012 Cigar Mile champion Stay Thirsty, Mind Control’s preference is to run in the race early next month, though the six-furlong Fall Highweight Handicap (November 29th) is also still an option.

“He worked well. He went five-eighths in 1:01 and change and out in 1:15. The track was a little heavy,” trainer Sacco said following his Belmont workout.

“I’ll talk it over with (racing manager Rick Sacco), Steve Brunetti, and Sol Kumin, but it looks like we’re going to point him to the Cigar Mile.”

Mind Control is already a four-time winner at Aqueduct, including successes in the Toboggan Stakes and Tom Fool Handicap – both Grade 3s – earlier this year.

His most recent outing in the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland saw Mind Control lose his chance when a rival came down in front of him, forcing rider John Velazquez to take evasive action.

Sacco hopes he is ready to go again in the Cigar Mile and feels the trip shouldn’t be a concern.

“He’s won at a mile early in his three-year-old career in the Jerome, and he was a good second in the Gotham,” Sacco said.

“We always thought between seven-eighths and a mile was his best distance. Three-quarters is a little short for him, even though he’s won at that distance and ran a dynamite race in the Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga.”

Trainer Jack Sisterson, fresh from his first Grade 1 winner this summer with Vexatious in the Personal Ensign Stakes, is likely to send out True Timber and Bon Raison in the Cigar Mile in a double-handed assault.

Six-year-old True Timber has previous in the race, having finished a close second to Patternrecognition in 2018 and third 12 months ago when Maximum Security triumphed.

He joined the Sisterson team this year following the retirement of previous trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He’s 0-4 thus far for his new stable, but was a closing second last time out in the Lafayette, while he was previously well held behind Firenze Fire in the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont in September.

“He’s a lovely horse. He really deserves to win a big race. He’s definitely got the talent to do it,” Sisterson said. “He’s very workmanlike in the morning, so I’ve learned to let him just put his feet where he wants to put them and keep him happy.”

Bon Raison, a veteran of 44 starts, finished tenth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland this month, though connections felt traffic problems meant he didn’t get a chance to show what he was capable of there and are content to go again in the Cigar Mile.