Mr. Buff Returns to Grade 1 Company
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
New York-bred standout Mr. Buff makes his return to Grade 1 company in the $250,000 Cigar Mile (G1) on December 5. The one-mile contest on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack drew nine runners, including brilliant rivals such as Performer, Firenze Fire, and Mind Control.
Mr. Buff would be a surprise, but he favors Aqueduct, with eight wins and three seconds in 13 tries over the oval. The gelded son of Friend Or Foe has won 15 of his 40 career starts with earnings over $1.2 million. Junior Alvarado will be aboard once again for trainer John Kimmel; the jockey-horse combination romped here by 20 lengths in the Haynesfield Stakes over this trip in February. In his last Grade 1 attempt, Mr. Buff finished fifth in the Whitney at Saratoga, then came right back to win the Empire Classic.
Firenze Fire is exiting a sharp run in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where he finished third. The son of Poseidon’s Warrior won the Grade 2 Vosburgh at Saratoga before that, and retains jockey Jose Lezcano for trainer Kelly Breen. He has won 12 of 30 overall and has earned $2.2 million. Two of those wins came over this track.
Mind Control has done virtually everything right at Aqueduct so far. The son of Stay Thirsty has won four of five here, including the 2019 Jerome Stakes over a mile. His lone loss came in the Gotham (G3) as a sophomore. Greg Sacco trains the colt, who is a millionaire with seven wins in 17 starts. He has not run the one-mile distance since March of 2019.
Performer is streaking into the race with five straight wins. The son of Speightstown won the Grade 3 Discovery here last November, then was off 11 months before winning an allowance at Belmont in October. He makes his Grade 1 debut here for Shug McGaughey and Joel Rosario, who climbs aboard once again and has been up for all five of his wins.
King Guillermo makes a long-awaited return to the races here for trainer Juan Avila. After winning the 2020 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), the son of Uncle Mo was one of the top choices for the Kentucky Derby, and trained well at Churchill Downs leading up to the race. Ultimately, he was scratched due to minor injury, but has been training well for his return here with two bullet workouts at Gulfstream Park during November. He was most recently second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on May 2. Jose Ortiz takes over the mount.
Millionaire Snapper Sinclair, Belmont Grade 3 winner Majestic Dunhill, millionaire True Timber, and recent Keeneland allowance winner Bon Raison complete the field. Bet Aqueduct online with TVG.com.
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For good reason, much of the attention on the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) will be on the international runners who come to Del Mar for the 12-furlong contest. In the last decade, just three winners have hailed from the United States, with the other seven coming from Europe. Since 2000, that split is 16 Europe, six for America.
- October 21, 2021
This is the last of eight weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
- October 20, 2021
A superb edition of the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) is on tap November 6, and the prospective field is a list of one sparkling star after the other.