It’s been a phenomenal year for trainer Christophe Clement at the track this year, notching a remarkable, and career-best, 98 wins. That’s not enough for Clement though, who is looking for his first win at the $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) race, which will be held on the 28th of this month at the Aqueduct Racetrack.
The odds are somewhat in Clement’s favor, as he will be cheering on two horses in the race: Tonalist and Red Vine.
Tonalist, the multiple grade I winner, will be ridden by John Velazquez, the Hall of Fame jockey, from post 5, and will go into the race with 2-1 odds. Clement’s other horse, Red Vine, has a line of 8-1, will break from post 3, and will be ridden by jockey Joel Rosario.
According to Clement, the plan is for “both Red Vine and Tonalist to remain in training next year.”
Standing in the way of Clement taking the crown at the Aqueduct Racetrack is Private Zone, who won the race last year and is now being trained by Brian Lynch.
The son of Macho Uno, Private Zone, was victorious in the grade III Belmont Sprint Championship and the grade I Forego in the NYRA circuit. He has two third-place finishes in the Churchill Downs (gr. II) and Met Mile. The six-year-old bay also came in second place to Runhappy in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. 1) at Keeneland on October 31.
Lynch is optimistic of Private Zone’s chances:
“I’ve only had a couple of weeks with him and only seen him this past week, so we’re going to do the best we can to get him there. I like to think everything happens for a reason, though, and he’s coming out of the Breeders’ Cup, so his fitness level was already good. Maybe he didn’t even need the work. He’s been very happy in his training this week. Hopefully he brings the same hard, tough race he’s been running.”
Private Zone will come out of the gates from outermost post 7, and is the favourite to win the race at 6-5 odds.
The rest of the horses and their odds:
Full of Mine/50-1