Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey will wrap up his year in New York on Saturday with a trio of stakes mounts on the biggest day of Aqueduct's holiday weekend.With 67 stakes victories across the country this year, the 46-year-old Bailey is one win away from tying fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith's single-season record of 68 set back in 1994.Bailey will have two shots to tie or break the record before riding the feature of the day and Aqueduct's fall meet, the $350,000 Cigar Mile (gr. I). It would be fitting if he could break the record in a race named for the superstar horse he used to ride.The Cigar Mile is part of a 10-race card which starts with a special noon post time for the first race and also features a pair of key juvenile races around two turns at a mile and an eighth. The Demoiselle for fillies and the Remsen for colts and geldings are both grade II races worth $200,000.Stonerside Stable's Congaree will try to become the first horse to win the Cigar Mile twice in the race's 15-year history. He scored a huge win here last year over Aldebaran in a fast final time of 1:33 and will be the 124-pound highweight this time.Congaree, a well-bred horse with multiple grade I victories, is still going strong at the age of 5 for owners Robert and Janice McNair, who own Stonerside Stable, and trainer Bob Baffert.
"He's pretty durable and he's a neat horse to be around," Baffert said. "The cNairs love that horse and they consider him a member of their family. They bred him, raised him and even bottle-fed him. He loves humans."Congaree, 11-for-22 with over $3 million in the bank, has kept top form throughout his career.
In the Breeders' Cup Classic last month, the son of Arazi was hooked in a vicious speed duel but stayed on remarkably well to be fourth, only beaten 2 ½ lengths."I didn't want to see that scenario in the Breeders' Cup," Baffert said. "You have to just sit on him and you can't try to move him early. I always have more confidence with him when Bailey is riding."Baffert is not sure about how much more racing Congaree has ahead of him, but he definitely feels blessed to be around such a special horse."He's so tough at a mile," Baffert said. "When you talk about the best milers of all time, he's got to be right up there."
Congaree has only run a mile four times in his career, but has won three of those races. Baffert takes credit for his one loss at the distance, a sixth-place finish in this year's Met Mile."He loves Aqueduct (3-for-3 over this track), but even if the Met Mile was at Aqueduct he wouldn't have won," Baffert said. "He wasn't training like himself going into that race."Congaree will not face a field of cupcakes while attempting to defend his title. The race is loaded with speed, and will probably be won by the best finisher in the race, which could still be a speed horse.Midas Eyes, unraced for four months earlier this year, returned off his layoff in a tough spot, the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). He chased the fast pace and tired to be eighth. The 3-year-old colt has done better at seven furlongs and a mile than he has at six furlongs, so the Cigar should be a better spot for him."He came out of the Breeders' Cup really well and he's training better now than he has all year," said Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.Midas Eyes may have been compromised slightly by drawing the inside post in the Cigar as his trainer was hoping to draw outside and avoid having to be pushed into the race early to hold position.Martin Schwartz's Bowman's Band is a logical choice for those looking for a closer. The 5-year-old won the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup at 1 1/8 mile in early October before turning back into the Sport Page where he met a sharp Voodoo and finished second."He was going faster in the beginning than he's comfortable with," trainer H. Allen Jerkens said of the seven-furlong Sport Page. "The other horse was just better that day. We're hoping the speed comes back to him a bit Saturday."Remsen: Bailey rides the favorite
Klaravich Stables' Read the Footnotes, who is 3-for-4 with good-looking wins in an allowance at Saratoga and the Nashua (gr. III) earlier this month, is the likely favorite in the $200,000 Remsen (gr. II)at 1 1/8-mile for 2-year-olds.Read the Footnotes, a son of Smoke Glacken, will have Bailey aboard for trainer Richard Violette Jr.
R. Mary Zuckerman's West Virginia will jump from New York-bred to open company in the Remsen. After an easy win in an off-the-turf race against fellow New Yorkers, the Tomorrow's Cat colt set the pace and drew away to a game score in the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes.Pa Pa Day, who was third in the Great White Way, may not have cared for the cut back in distance from a mile to six furlongs. He should appreciate the stretchout to two turns SaturdayDemoiselle: Bailey's first shot of the day to tie
Starlight Stable's Ashado could tie Bailey with Smith for the stakes record. She will likely be the Demoiselle (gr. II) favorite based on her victories earlier this year in the Schuylerville and Spinaway and her recent runner-up finish to Halfbridled in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).Bailey will get the mount on Ashado for the first time. John Velazquez, who rode Ashado in the Breeders' Cup, will stay with La Reina, who he has piloted all three times she has run.La Reina, a daughter of A.P. Indy owned by Emory Hamilton, broke her maiden by five lengths in her second start and returned to edge away to a popular victory in the Grade 3 Tempted here earlier this month.$350,000 Cigar Mile (gr. I), 3 & up, 1 mile
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Midas Eyes, Bobby Frankel, John Velazquez, 115
2. Congaree, Bob Baffert, Jerry Bailey, 124
3. New York Hero, Jennifer Pedersen, Javier Castellano, 113
4. Newfoundland, Todd Pletcher, Richard Migliore, 113
5. Toccet, John Scanlan, Mike Luzzi, 115
6. Well Fancied, Richard Dutrow Jr., Edgar Prado, 115
7. Voodoo, Jimmy Jerkens, Jose Santos, 116
8 Bowman's Band, H. Allen Jerkens, Ramon Dominguez, 116
$200,000 Remsen (gr. II), 2-year-olds 1 1/8 mile
1. Big Booster, John Kimmel, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 116
2. Milestone Victory, Niall Brennan, Javier Castellano, 116
3. Artie Schiller, Jimmy Jerkens, Richard Migliore, 116
4. Mustanfar, Kiaran McLaughlin, Aaron Gryder, 116
5. El Prado Rob, Nick Zito, Edgar Prado, 116
6. Who Is Chris G., Robert Klesaris, Ramon Dominguez, 116
7. West Virginia , Todd Pletcher, Shaun Bridgmohan, 120
8. Master David, Brian Meehan, Jose Santos, 116
9. Read the Footnotes, Richard Violette Jr., Jerry Bailey, 122
10. Tap Day, Mark Hennig, Mike Luzzi, 116
11. Pa Pa Da, David Donk, John Velazquez, 116 $200,000 Demoiselle (gr. II), 2-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 mile
1. Dr. Kathy, Richard Dutrow Jr., Shaun Bridgmohan, 115
2. La Reina, Shug McGaughey, John Velazquez, 121
3. Taittinger Rose, Bill Mott, Edgar Prado, 115
4. Shamoiselle, Guadalupe Preciado, Ramon Dominguez, 115
5. Ashado, Todd Pletcher, Jerry Bailey, 117
6. Please Take Me Out, Alfredo Callejas, Aaron Gryder, 119
7. Run Cat Run, John Terranova, Jose Santos, 115