Global Weekly Preview: Cigar celebrated in fine renewal at Aqueduct

J A McGrath

Cigar will forever have a place in the hearts and memories of followers of Dubai racing.

The son of Palace Music was registering his 14th consecutive win when recording a great triumph in the inaugural G1 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba in 1996.

He was owned by Allen Paulson, trained by Bill Mott, and struck up a wonderful partnership with jockey Jerry Bailey.

He went on to make it 16 wins straight but was beaten in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, thus failing by one to equal the feat of Citation, who had chalked up 17 in a row.

Cigar later proved infertile at stud, but lived in happy retirement. He died in 2014.

I believe it appropriate that such an outstanding champion should be remembered with a renewal of his race, the G1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, that looks fascinating on paper.

The Chad Brown-trained Practical Joke is a talented three-year-old, who finished a creditable fifth in the G1 Kentucky Derby before landing the G3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont and the G1 H Allen Jerkins Stakes at Saratoga.

He comes to the Cigar Mile off the back of a fourth to Battle Of Midway in the G1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar, a race in which the draw almost certainly cost him his winning chance.

Interesting that jockey Joel Rosario has deserted Mind Your Biscuits, the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, who will step up one mile following a good third in the G1 Breeders' Cup Sprint, over six furlongs.

This is the feature of a great card at Aqueduct, which from a Godolphin perspective revolves around Avery Island furthering his Kentucky Derby aspirations in the G2 Remsen Stakes, over one mile, one furlong, and Indulgent landing the G3 Go For Wand Handicap, over one mile.

In Australia, the important action takes place on the west coast, at Ascot, Perth, where 12 runners will line up for the G1 Winterbottom Stakes, over 1,200m, with State Solicitor, Viddora, and Santa Ana Lane, among the leading protagonists.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Jockey Club stage a low-key Sunday meeting at Sha Tin, clearing the stage for the big Hong Kong International Races at the same track seven days later. It is their best racing week of the year.