June 5, 2023

Performer puts win streak on the line in Cigar Mile

Performer wins the 2019 Discovery
Performer wins the 2019 Discovery (Coglianese Photography)

Cigar Mile H. — Race 10 (4:13 p.m. ET)
Go for Wand H. — Race 6 (2:07 p.m. ET)

What promised to be an exciting 4-year-old season for Performer was derailed by setbacks earlier in the season, but it’s not too late for the son of Speightstown to end a brief 2020 campaign with a significant victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Cigar Mile H. (G1) at Aqueduct.

An impressive stakes debut winner around this time last year when taking the Discovery (G3) for Phipps Stable and Claiborne Farm, Performer enters the Cigar Mile on a five-race win streak that commenced in June 2019. However, only one of those wins has come this year, a 1 3/4-length allowance score at Belmont on Oct. 17 that was nearly 11 months after the Discovery.

“He seems to be doing as well now as he’s ever done,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “Everything being equal he’ll run next year, but what I’ll do with him after Saturday, I’m not sure yet. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Firenze Fire, winner of the Vosburgh (G2) and True North (G2) earlier in the season, stretches out after closing for third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland last time. The 5-year-old is 3-for-6 in his career over a mile, including a victory in the 2017 Champagne (G1).

The New York-bred Mr. Buff figures to be on or near the lead and is 8-for-13 over the Aqueduct main track. Also likely to show some fresh speed is King Guillermo, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner who has not run since finishing second in a division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) back in May and was forced to miss the Kentucky Derby (G1) in September due to a setback.

Bold Ruler H. (G3) winner Majestic Dunhill wheels back on short rest after a dull last-place showing in last Sunday’s Fall Highweight H. (G3), while Kentucky invader Snapper Sinclair enters in good form but has become more adept on turf with age. Mind Control is 4-for-5 at Aqueduct, but has run below his best in multiple starts since June.

The field is rounded out by the Calumet Farm-owned pair of True Timber, who finished third in the 2019 Cigar Mile but is winless in six outings this term, and longshot Bon Raison.

There are no prior graded stakes winners among the six fillies and mares entered in the $100,000 Go for Wand H. (G3) earlier in the card, though Nonna Madeline‘s back class and speed could make her a strong favorite in the one-mile test.