Anchor Down well-suited by conditions in Cigar Mile

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

November 23rd, 2016

By sunset on Saturday, Anchor Down will have danced all the dances with respect to competing in New York's four significant one-turn mile stakes for older horses this season. A victory in the $500,000 Cigar Mile H. (G1) at Aqueduct would give the Todd Pletcher-trained five-year-old wins in three of those four, as well as his first top-level victory.

Anchor Down, who drew the tricky 1 post, is likely to try and lead all the way in the Cigar Mile, just as he did in taking the Westchester (G3) and Kelso H. (G2) earlier in the season. Outrun for the lead in the Metropolitan H. (G1), he nonetheless finished a clear second, albeit 14 1/4 lengths behind Frosted.

The form of the Kelso was flattered when runner-up Tamarkuz shipped west and upset the field in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Kelso third-placer Ocean Knight was in a prime stalking position along the inside, but lacked a sufficient stretch kick to keep up with Anchor Down. The lightly-raced four-year-old does get a three-pound shift in the weights for this rematch though, and is seemingly improving at the right time.

Three-year-old contenders figure tough in this renewal. Connect, who landed the Pennsylvania Derby (G2), defeating the likes of Gun Runner and classic winners Nyquist and Exaggerator, shortens up from 1 1/8 miles for Chad Brown, who also saddles Threefiveindia and Grade 1-placed stakes winner Economic Model, second and third, respectively, in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler H. (G3) last time.

Grade 3 winner and classic-placed Divining Rod, second to Noble Bird in the latter's track-record performance in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland last out, adds blinkers on Saturday and is another potential threat in the field of 10.

The first stakes on Saturday's Big A card, the $250,000 Comely (G3) for three-year-old fillies, features a showdown between Lewis Bay, who's won the Demoiselle (G2) and Gazelle (G2) over the same track and 1 1/8-mile trip, and the once-beaten Unbridled Mo.

Lewis Bay enters off a scorching 5 1/4-length win against older in the Turnback the Alarm H. (G3), while Unbridled Mo has won the Monmouth Oaks (G3) and $200,000 Remington Park Oaks in her last two.

(Robert Mauhar/Adam Coglianese Photography)