Cigar Mile (Aqueduct) Predictions, Odds & Picks

Cigar Mile at Aqueduct 2020

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Performer (5/2)

Post Position and Odds – Cigar Mile

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
J Rosario C McGaughey
J Velazquez G Sacco
M Franco S Asmussen
J Lezcano K Breen
5 MR. BUFF 8/1
J Alvarado J C Kimmel
J Ortiz J C Avilla
D Davis G Weaver
K Carmouche J Sisterson
J A Vargas Jr. J Sisterson

Best Bets for the Cigar Mile

Here are my plays ($54 in total)

50-cent Superfecta key – Performer over King Guillermo, Firenze Fire, Mr. Buff, True Timber and Mind Control = $30

20-cent Superfecta key – King Guillermo over Performer, Firenze Fire, Mr. Buff, True Timber and Mind Control = $12

20-cent Superfecta key – Mr. Buff over Performer, King Guillermo, Firenze Fire, True Timber and Mind Control = $12

Top Pick:

Performer (5/2)

In a race that clinched an Eclipse Award for Maximum Security last year, a competitive nine-horse field has been entered for this year’s edition of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap. The $250,000 affair will headline a big day of racing Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The most likely favorite in the wide-open race will be the Shug McGaughey-trained Performer. The winner of five straight since finishing third in his career debut, the Phipps stable homebred was a determined winner of the Grade 3 Discovery at Aqueduct this time last year but missed nearly 11 months of racing before coming back with a good looking win at Belmont Park in October.

Chief among his rivals in the 8-furlong test will be a pair of graded stakes winners in the experienced Firenze Fire and the young King Guillermo. The former finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint four weeks ago and has already accounted for three graded stakes victories this season for trainer Kelly Breen.

King Guillermo has not run since finishing second behind the unbeaten Nadal in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on May 2 at Oaklawn Park. The winner of the Tampa Bay Derby was pointed for the Kentucky Derby in September but had to miss the big race due to a fever.

With plenty of rain expected in the New York area on Friday and Saturday, the racing surface at Aqueduct is expected to be off-track for the 32nd running of the Cigar Mile.

How to Watch the Cigar Mile

Cigar Mile Race Information
What Cigar Mile (Grade 1)
Where Aqueduct
When Saturday, December 5 — 4:13 pm Eastern time
How to Watch Fox Sports 2
Purse $250,000

Race Analysis


It’s time for this much talked about a runner from the Hall of Fame barn of Shug McGaughey to step up to the plate. A winner of all four of his starts at 3, he, unfortunately, missed most of this year due to physical setbacks. The good news is he picked right up where he left off when he finally made it back to the races with a sharp allowance victory in the mud at Belmont Park six weeks ago. This will be his toughest test to date, but the son of Speightstown gives all indications that he has the talent to win a race like this. He likes an off track, is already a stakes winner at Aqueduct, and has good tactical speed. He is the top pick.

Firenze Fire

The most accomplished horse in the field comes in off a very good effort when third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in his most recent start. Admirably, he’s a multiple stakes winner in each of his four seasons on the racetrack and certainly fits in with this bunch from a class perspective. Although he has handled the one-mile distance before, all of his recent runnings have come going shorter. On a suspected sloppy track, I have my doubts whether he can out finish this group, especially on a deep surface like Aqueduct. A must use in the exotics, I will try to beat him in the top spot.

King Guillermo

The only 3-year-old in the field deserves the respect he will likely get from the wagering public. His win in the Tampa Bay Derby and runner-up in the Arkansas Derby pointed him out as one of the top young horses in the nation early this year. Of course, those races came on March 7 and May 2 respectively. While a fair amount of skepticism should be given to a horse away for 7 months while facing older horses for the first time, I do believe he has the class and talent to make his presence known here. He possesses good early speed, has been working well and seems to run well fresh. Slop is a question, but his pedigree suggests that he will handle it. He is the second most likely winner, in my opinion.

Mr. Buff

This 6-year-old gelding has made a habit of winning stakes races against New York-bred company, as he did last time when easily accounting for the Empire Classic. While he has yet to break through against the very best, he is a stakes winner against open company, and this could be his best chance yet to win a Grade 1. He likes Aqueduct and is right at home on an off track. In fact, last time he raced at the Big A in the slop, he won for fun in the Jazil Stakes. This is clearly tougher competition than that, but his early speed, good form, and liking of the conditions which he’ll see on Saturday, all make him a big threat.

True Timber

Although he hasn’t actually won a race in more than two years, he’s become quite good at hitting the board. Two of those in the money performances came when second in this race in 2018 and third behind Maximum Security last year, as a longshot both times. He also can handle an off-track and comes in off a good effort to rally for second in a deep edition of the Lafayette last time at Keeneland. Once again, I don’t see him winning, but it’s hard to keep off your tickets in the underneath spots.

Mind Control

Although his recent form leaves much to be desired, there is plenty to like from this former Grade 1 winner. He’s got a great record over the Aqueduct track, with four wins and a second in five tries, and he’s won both at a mile and over an off track. He also has enough speed to stay in touch early, while enough late run to appreciate the one-turn mile. In order to play him, you need to decide that he can bounce back from dull recent form, but that is why you are going to get attractive odds on a horse with oodles of back class. Ridden by the Hall of Famer, John Velazquez, he is a very dangerous longshot.

Snapper Sinclair

After seven consecutive defeats over the main track, this Steve Asmussen-trainee went back to grass where he stretched his losing streak to ten. Having said that, he is generally running against very good competition, and every once in a while he pops up with a strong performance. It does look like his very best racing is reserved for the unique qualities of Kentucky Downs, so a win in Aqueduct’s most important race would be a surprise. Still, he has good tactical speed and has handled sloppy tracks before. He’s a bit of a wildcard in here.

Majestic Dunhill

A winner of two of his three tries on off tracks, you only have to go back two starts to see stakes win in the mud at Belmont Park. This fondness for a wet track makes him one to give a second look to in the Cigar Mile. I’m not crazy about the fact that he comes into this race off of only six days between races. Had he run better in Aqueduct’s Fall Highweight on Sunday, I wouldn’t mind the quick turnaround, but his performance was dull. There’s also plenty to question when he faces really good horses. He looks like a horse who can succeed when the competition is just a little bit lighter. Still, he’s hard to completely dismiss.

Bon Raison

The second from the barn of Jack Sisterson, this 5-year-old has won both three times at Aqueduct and three times on a wet racing surface, which gives hope for an upset performance on Saturday. He also scored a nice allowance win at Keeneland two starts back, before finishing well beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Unfortunately, looking at his recent form in stakes races, it’s hard to get excited about his chances in this Grade 1.


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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]