Pletcher Has Three-Pronged Attack in Cigar Mile

Edited NYRA reports
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who entered this week with earnings of $18,831,602, just by just $315,527 behind Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel's single season record of $19,147,129, has a three-pronged attack in Saturday's $350,000 Hill `n' Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct.

In seeking back-to-back wins in the final grade I race of the year in New York, Pletcher will send out Chilean-bred Host, 2004 Jim Dandy (gr. I) winner Purge and the $1.1 million yearling Value Plus.

Pletcher also appears to have the horse to beat in the 92nd running of the grade II, $200,000 Remsen with Bluegrass Cat, and he trains three of the five fillies entered in the garde II $200,000 Demoiselle for fillies.

As for the Cigar Mile, Host, a Group 1 winner on the dirt in Chile, has started nine times since moving to Pletcher's operation in the winter of 2004. He has raced on the dirt just once for Pletcher, running a distant third to Funny Cide and Evening Attire in the 2004 Excelsior Handicap here. Since that race, Host has had most of his success closing from off the pace on the turf, a tactic Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez will employ Saturday.

"We've learned how he wants to run since that race," said Pletcher, who did not enter defending Cigar Mile champion Lion Tamer because the horse was in the process of being sold this week. "He made the lead in the Excelsior and he is a much better horse coming from off the pace. A mile is better for him, too."

Host won the grade I Shadwell Turf Mile in early October at Keeneland. He went on to finish seventh, three lengths behind winner Artie Schiller after steadying repeatedly in the last furlong, in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).

Badge of Silver, who finished second to Lion Tamer in last year's Cigar Mile, is one of two horses that were entered in the Cigar Mile by Frankel, who also sends out grade I Forego winner Mass Media. The Frankel horses race as separate betting interests.

The Field for Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile:

Post position -- Horse, jockey, weight

1--Straight Line, Jose Santos, 114
2 -- Host, John Velazquez, 114
3--Scrappy T, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 115
4 – Bailero, C.C. Lopez, 112
5 -- Imperialism, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118
6--Badge of Silver, Jerry Bailey, 118
7 -- Purge, Garrett Gomez, 115
8--Mass Media, Alex Solis, 115
9 -- Gygistar, Javier Castellano, 115
10--Silver Wagon, Cornelio Velasquez, 117
11--Value Plus, Joe Bravo, 114