Timeform US Preview: Connect to collect at Aqueduct

Saturday's feature race at Aqueduct is the Grade 1 Cigar Mile
Saturday's feature race at Aqueduct is the Grade 1 Cigar Mile

Timeform's Mark Milligan previews the action at Aqueduct on Saturday, including the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

"Connect is dropping back in trip, but that could well be a positive as the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a strong gallop..."

Grade 3 Comely Stakes, 9f dirt (17:50 GMT)

An intriguing clash of three-year-old fillies, with Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher fielding four of the seven runners between them. Chad Brown's pair of Lewis Bay and Going for Broke look particularly strong and bring proven form at a higher grade than this into the race. On the other hand, the strongest of Pletcher's duo looks to be Unbridled Mo, who has won her last four starts but never raced above Grade 3 level.

Lewis Bay was an impressive winner of a Grade 3 contest last time, while several placings at the top level (including a second in the Kentucky Oaks) put her top of the Timeform ratings before weight-adjustments are taken into account. However, she has a tough task in giving 8 lb to her stable companion Going for Broke, who racked up an impressive sequence of wins earlier in the year before running into Songbird in the Alabama at Saratoga. Far from disgraced in finishing second there, she also ran creditably behind her elders last time, when the muddy track may not have suited. Unbridled Mo also has to give weight to Going for Broke, and at this stage of her development, that may be a bridge too far.

Grade 1 Cigar Mile, 1m dirt (21:20 GMT)

The aforementioned Chad Brown also boasts a strong hand in Aqueduct's feature event, being responsible for three of the ten-strong field. In truth, this doesn't look a stellar renewal of the Cigar Mile, and it would be somewhat of a surprise were it to fall to anything outside the first three or four in the betting.

The standard-setters are Chad Brown's Connect and Todd Pletcher's Anchor Down, who are both well clear of the rest based on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings. Connect is dropping back in trip, but that could well be a positive as the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a strong gallop, which may not suit Anchor Down, who tends to race prominently. Connect's most recent outing resulted in a win in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, beating the very smart Gun Runner. Connect has only been beaten once in four 2016 starts (tailed off in the Travers), and he was clearly amiss that day.

Anchor Down's win last time was paid a handsome compliment when the horse he defeated, Tamarkuz, came back to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. However, the major knock on Anchor Down's form this year is that both his wins have come when dictating steady fractions from the front. Berthed in stall one here, his rider Jose Ortiz may have little choice but to go forward, and with the likes of other prominent racers Ocean Knight and (intriguingly) Chad Brown's Threefiveindia to keep him company, he could well be softened up for a closer.

The third of Brown's contenders, Economic Model, is another that may be well served by a fast pace, and he ought to be closing well enough to pick up the pieces. Not quite at his best over 7f on his last two starts, the step back up to a soundly-run mile ought to play to Economic Model's strengths, but he does just seem to lack the inherent class of stablemate Connect, who is a confident selection.

Win Back Going for Broke in the Comely Stakes
Win Back Connect in the Cigar Mile

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