USA: Connect holds them off in Cigar Mile

Connect (near) beats Divining Rod in the Cigar Mile

PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos USA: Connect holds them off in Cigar Mile By Nicholas Godfrey 12:58PM 27 NOV 2016

Report: USA, Saturday

Aqueduct: Cigar Mile (Grade 1 hcap) 1m, dirt, 3yo+

PENNSYLVANIA DERBY winner Connect (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) bettered his elders for his first Grade 1 success as he held off Divining Rod in a fierce stretch battle for the $500,000 Cigar Mile.

Making his first start since beating a top field featuring a pair of Classic winners at Parx on September 24, this late-developing son of Curlin added to his laurels with a gutsy effort at Aqueduct, where he was sent off 6-4 favourite.

"We've always thought a lot of this horse," said trainer Chad Brown, who leads the way among US trainers in prize-money terms this season with more than $22.5 million and 176 winners as of Saturday night.

After running just once as a two-year-old, Connect did not break his maiden until May and the Triple Crown duly came and went without him. "I was a little concerned because this horse hadn't had a race under his belt since the Pennsylvania Derby, but I know how much heart he has and how competitive he is," Brown added.

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Churchill Downs: Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1/2f, dirt, 2yo

The 4-5 favourite McCracken (Ian Wilkes/Brian Hernandez) ensured his name will feature in early Kentucky Derby discussions over the winter as he overcame a wide draw and a wide trip with a sustained rally to score by a length and a quarter over a double-figure field at the Derby venue.

"He's as good as what I thought he is," said Wilkes, who has enjoyed a purple patch with a flurry of winners at Churchill over the Thanksgiving weekend. "It wasn't easy but he came through for us. He had to belly down and run, so that was good."


McCracken is a contender for the Kentucky Derby back at Churchill

PICTURE: Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos

Aqueduct: Remsen Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 2yo

A bubble was burst here as Shadwell’s odds-on favourite Takaful faded inside the final furlong after being passed by Mo Town (Tony Dutrow/John Velazquez), whose part-owners include the Coolmore team. The winner had scored by seven in maiden company on his previous outing at Belmont.

Del Mar: Seabiscuit Hcap (Grade 2) 1m1/2f, turf, 3yo+

Ring Weekend (Graham Motion/Drayden Van Dyke) won his sixth Graded stakes as he just held Vyjack in the closing stages to score by a head. The same jockey/trainer team had won the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante for two-year-old fillies earlier on the same card with Journey Home, in which the Sylvester Kirk-trained Tiburtina was sent off a 26-1 shot before finishing eighth of 13. She was never a factor.

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