Practical Joke should get perfect setup in Cigar Mile

The last Grade I of the year in New York, the $750,000 Cigar Mile, takes place this Saturday at Aqueduct. The main-track handicap drew a field of 10 looking to end their 2017 campaign on a high note. The last of 10 races on a spectacular card, the Cigar will go off at 4:16 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, be sure to try out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#8 PRACTICAL JOKE (7-2), undefeated in five career starts around one turn, is the top selection. He boasts a 3-2-0-0 record at today’s one-mile distance, with the lone loss coming last time out in the two-turn Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar. If he replicates either his Dwyer or Allen Jerkens effort from earlier this year, PRACTICAL JOKE can win the Cigar. Look for Joel Rosario to work out a smooth stalking trip from this post, and note that Rosario had numerous choices in this race but opted for this Chad Brown trainee.

#6 SHARP AZTECA (2-1, morning-line favorite), the clear speed of this bunch, gets a rider upgrade to Javier Castellano. Though he’ll likely face pressure from #2 SEYMOURDINI and #5 AMERICANIZE, SHARP AZTECA is simply too fast to leave out of the equation. ‘AZTECA nearly took the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when last seen and has never missed the board in eight starts at this distance (8-5-2-1). His fourth graded stakes win of 2017 is well within reach.

#10 BEASLEY (12-1) is an intriguing up-and-comer who will likely offer tantalizing odds. He won his first two starts off a layoff before taking third in the Bold Ruler off a wide trip. Junior Alvarado will have to save ground to give BEASLEY his best shot in this one. The Mark Hennig trainee gets a not-unimportant weight break of up to nine pounds on most of his rivals.

The play: $6 exacta 8/6, $4 exacta 8/10 ($10)

DFJ analysis: See my Cigar Mile undercard column!

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