THE final Grade 1 on the east coast takes place this evening with a six-horse field for the Cigar Handicap at Aqueduct.
Chad Brown’s Zandon joins White Abarrio as the two three-year-old in the six-horse line-up.
It also includes the older Grade 1 winner Mind Control, on his final start of his career.
Two of the last three winners of the race were three-year-olds and Zandon links in with the best of the classic crop’s form.
He finished third in the Kentucky Derby and then was second and third to Epicenter in the Jim Dandy and the Grade 1 Travers. He has never been out of the first three in his seven runs. He was then second in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, finishing behind Taiba but beating Cyberknife.
White Abarrio, winner earlier in the year of the Grade 1 Florida Derby, was back in fifth. Zandon also has a Grade 1 to is name from his early season win in the Blue Grass in Keeneland.
“He’s been tough every race. He has given it his all each time while coming out on the short end a few times, but he’s always right there. I think he’ll break through here,” Brown said this week. The Grade 1 winner Mind Control, who will be making his final start, looks the danger to Zandon, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Parx Dirt Mile.
The east coast stables go west to mount a strong challenge for the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby with three trained by Graham Motion, one by Todd Pletcher and one by Shug McGaughey.
The Pletcher-trained Wit is the favourite off a steady season of graded placings.
McGaughey’s Uncle Mo colt Celestial City, a recent Grade 2 winner at Aqueduct, looks the next best.
The Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes on Sunday has attracted a larger field than usual with 10 runners headed by the Chad Brown-trained multiple Grade 1 winner Regal Glory.
Brown could accomplish something that hasn’t been done in 30 years, in winning back-to-back runnings with the same horse.
Brown has also won four of the last five renewals of the race and Regal Glory is backed up by Dolce Zel this time.
Regal Glory, a six-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom, has a total of 11 stakes wins and won her first three races of the year including two Grade 1s. She was second against males in the Grade 1 Fourstarsdave and most recently a disappointing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
The three-year-old Zelzal filly Dolce Zel has two wins and three placings in five US starts for Brown. She captured the July 22nd Grade 2 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga by a nose despite encountering traffic later in the mile race.
The other three-year-old to tackle her elders brings excellent credentials. Pizza Bianca, trained by Christophe Clement, won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf here at Del Mar.
She has added the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico and travelled to Royal Ascot, where she was eighth to Inspiral in the Coronation Stakes.
Others with decent form include Avenue De France, winner of the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes during the summer meeting here at Del Mar.
WILLIE Mullins is represented by Franco De Port in today’s Grade 2 Auteuil Prix Georges Courtois (Chase) (1.15pm Sky).
Danny Mullins partners the seven-year-old in the two mile and six-furlong contest.
He returns quickly after finishing fifth last weekend in the Grade 1 Prix la Haye Jousselin.
Louisa Carberry’s Gran Diose and James Reveley looks the possible winners, coming of a Grade 2 win in Compeigne.
The Auteuil card also includes a Grade 2 hurdle racce over two miles and five furlongs (12.40pm) which features the high-class five-year-old Hermes Baie.