November 30, 2010

Anatomy of a Cigar Mile Shocker

At nearly 35-1, Jersey Town was easily the longest shot on the board in Saturday’s Cigar Mile. And why not, he was one of only two horses in the deep field never to have won a single stakes race. The closest he had ever come to winning a stakes was last year when he ran second at Hastings Park. I am not sure of the statistics, but I do know not a lot of horses come from the Western Canadian track to win one of the big races in New York. Adding to his longshot status was the fact that Jersey Town had managed only one win so far in 2010, and that came in an optional claimer at Suburban Seattle’s Emerald Downs. But we all know the result, as the unheralded Jersey Town jumped up to snare the Cigar Mile in a terrific stretch battle over Jockey Club Gold Cup hero, Haynesfield. Begging the question … how on earth did the unthinkable happen?

While he deserved to be a longshot, there were some signs to recommend that Jersey Town was sitting on a big effort. He had been second or third in three successive graded stakes before the Cigar Mile and looked especially sharp in the two dirt efforts, including a second in the Longacres Mile. Most recently he had split two of his Cigar Mile foes when second in the Bold Ruler, finishing behind Bribon and ahead of Half Metal Jacket, two horses that were bet well below him on Saturday. On that day, Jersey Town had raced very wide, further pointing out his good form. There was no doubt that the lightly raced colt was on the improve for master conditioner, Barclay Tagg, but more important to the scenario may have been the clues presented by the competition.

Four of the preferred horses, Musket Man, Haynesfield, Girolamo, and Vineyard Haven were bouncing back quickly from the Breeders’ Cup. None of them had run well in Louisville after pointing for their respective races for months. The Cigar Mile while prestigious, may have been simply an afterthought for them following BC failure. Three-year-olds Friend or Foe and Soaring Empire were coming off sharp wins, but had never run well against top notch competition before. Bribon may have been the horse with the least to worry about, but had often hung in his biggest tests in the past. Jersey Town also got weight from most of the field and was about to get the perfect stalking ride from jockey Cornelio Velasquez. It all added up to a perfect storm brewing against the more established runners and in favor of the upstart Jersey Town.

If you happened to notice all the clues before the race, you must have loved the Cigar Mile payouts. Jersey Town returned $71.50, $25.80 and $9.50 across the board. The all son of Speightstown exacta with Haynesfield paid $461.50 and the trifecta with Girolamo third, cashed out for almost $2,300.00. Did I have it? No, but in reviewing my Monday morning quarterback notes … I really should have.

The victory for Jersey Town brings trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Charles Fipke their second Cigar Mile win in three years, as they teamed up to take it with Tale of Ekati in 2008 via a disqualification. Still lightly raced, it was Jersey Town’s 5th victory in 12 lifetime starts. A huge longshot on Saturday, Jersey Town is likely never to be let go at these type odds again. I am happy to report he will not be one of those top horses to add his name to the recent premature retirement list. The son of broodmare Jersey Girl, a multiple grade one winner in her own right, will return to compete next year as a five-year-old. The Breeders’ Cup Mile of 2011 being his ultimate goal. After the Cigar Mile, I have learned not to discount the chances of Jersey Town ever again.


$2 Win Bet said...

If only we had seen this before the race. I too think he was a very playable horse in there. Probably will not be his last big win either, glad he is coming back.

Anonymous said...

i love taking your money.
it was a speed track all day long, therefore haynesfield figured.
who had the fastest pace figures?
that's right, jersey shore.
keep listening to the idiots on t.v.g. and n.y.r.a. and i will keep taking 30+ to one.

Brian Zipse said...

What can I say anonymous ... everyone knows you are the best.

Ian Lozada said...

I knew my tickets were in trouble as soon as Maggie Wolfendale noted Bribon's new front wraps.

Brian Zipse said...

The curse of Maggie???

John said...

Hi Brian,

You failed to mention Jersey Town was a good second to Bribon in the Bold Ruler in late Oct.; 12-1 on the M/L. Based on those two facts and facing a field of horses like Vineyard Haven, who has seen his better days, he was not such a shock to bettors like me :-)

Lynne said...

You used phrase "Master conditioner" describing Barclay Tagg & I could not agree more. Cornelio is an underrated rider around here. Maybe because J. Velasquez gets all the press. 114 lbs. 2nd to Bribon, A bunch of battle scarred competitors, & that yummy price!!!! Now what more could I want in a longshot, my favorite kind of bet???!!!"

Brian Zipse said...

I thought I mentioned that he had run second to Bribon, beating Half Metal Jacket in his last race. Nice work John, and big congrats to Lynne!

John said...

Me bad, on a careful re-reading you did mention the Bold Ruler, my humblest apologies.