Aqueduct Top Races
The best races at Aqueduct are the $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) and the $1 million Wood Memorial (G2).
The Cigar Mile gets a purse bump if a Grade 1 winner runs in it to $750,000, and if the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) runs in it the purse goes to $1 million. Before it was called the Cigar Mile, it was called the NYRA Mile.
The race has been won by some of racing’s best horses. 2019 Eclipse Champion Three Year Old Maximum Security won the Cigar Mile that fall as a sophomore, cementing his award. He had previously won the Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference.
Other winners include Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, top sprinter Private Zone, Travers Stakes winner Stay Thirsty, Bob Baffert runners Congaree and El Corredor, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s it was won by stars Forty Niner, Quiet American, and Rubiano. Retired jockey Jerry Bailey has more wins than anyone else with five, and trainer Todd Pletcher has won the race four times. Congaree is the only horse to win the race twice.
On the same card as the Cigar Mile is the $400,000 Remsen Stakes (G2) for two-year-olds, the $400,000 Demoiselle Stakes (G2) for juvenile fillies, and the $400,000 Comely (G3). The day before has the $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap (G3) for older fillies and mares.
The Remsen Stakes used to be considered one of the biggest Kentucky Derby prep races. It began in 1904 and used to produce the Winter Book Favorite for the Kentucky Derby before the advent of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Remsen winners include Honor Code, Coronado’s Quest, Kentucky Derby winners Thunder Gulch and Go for Gin in consecutive years, and top runners Java Gold and Pleasant Colony in the 1980s. The likes of Northern Dancer, Key to the Mint, Damascus, and Carry Back all won the Remsen.
Aqueduct Live Odds
Like the Remsen, the Demoiselle is run over 1 1/8 miles for two-year-olds but is for fillies. It is part of the road to the Kentucky Oaks. Aqueduct live odds and odds for the biggest races can be seen on Aqueduct’s website or any major racebook. Wonder Gadot won the Demoiselle in 2017 before going on to defeat males in the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes in 2018. Better Than Honour won it in 1998; she went on to produce Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches. Breeders’ Cup winners Ajina and Open Mind won the Demoiselle, as did Hall of Fame mare Chris Evert and Kentucky Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk.
The Go for Wand Handicap is named after one of the best mares to ever run in New York. Go for Wand never did run at Aqueduct, but she won seven Grade 1 races in just 13 starts. Another great New York filly, Ruffian, did race at Aqueduct. She won the Astoria, Mother Goose, and Acorn Stakes in her short but unbeaten career.
During the spring, Aqueduct runs some great races, including the Road to the Kentucky Derby, races the Jerome, Bay Shore, Gotham Stakes, and Wood Memorial. There is the Road to the Kentucky Oaks race the Gazelle Stakes, and a Grade 1 for older sprinters, the Carter Handicap.
The Wood Memorial is New York’s last prep race for the Kentucky Derby. Fusaichi Pegasus won the race in 2000 before wearing the roses, and Vino Rosso won it in 2018 before winning the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The race has been a sire-maker, as leading American stallions Tapit and Unbridled’s Song, as well as Empire Maker, the sire of American Pharoah, have all won it.
The Gazelle Stakes was first to run in 1887. Close Hatches, the dam of 2020 star Tacitus, won the Gazelle in 2013. Star fillies Serena’s Song, My Flag, Silverbulletday, and Pine Island won it, as well as Heavenly Prize, Dispute, and Versailles Treaty.
The Carter Handicap was run as far as 1 1/4 miles but has been seven furlongs since 1903. Vekoma won it in 2020 before taking the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. It has been won by Canadian Champion Langfuhr, Hall of Famer Gulch, and the mighty Forego.