OZONE PARK, N.Y. – On Oct. 7, 2017, Copper Town beat Patternrecognition in a $75,460 first-level allowance race at Belmont Park. Saturday, 420 days later, Copper Town and Patternrecognition meet again as two of the protagonists in the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.
Since that October day, Copper Town has raced only once, owing to myriad issues, including an abscess on his hind end followed by bone bruising that kept him away from the races for a year.
Copper Town returned to action on Oct. 13 at Keeneland and, despite a slow start and four-wide trip, he rolled to a five-length victory in a second-level allowance race going 6 1/2 furlongs. The big question is whether one race in 420 days is enough to have him ready to take a Grade 1 stakes.
“From a talent perspective he certainly fits,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times. “Hopefully, one race and the training he’s done since then, in particular his penultimate breeze was excellent, is enough. In a perfect world, we would have had another start. He’s pretty much run well every time he’s run. It’s a matter of if he can step up that little bit more.”
Patternrecognition is 3 for 5 since losing to Copper Town 60 weeks ago. One of those wins came in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap on Sept. 22, a one-turn mile race at Belmont that he controlled throughout on the front end to win by a length over a field that included Sunny Ridge and Timeline, both of whom are back in this field.
With Mendelssohn in the field, it would seem unlikely that Patternrecognition would be able to make the lead. In November 2017, Patternrecognition did win a one-mile allowance race sitting second early on.
Patternrecognition, trained by Chad Brown, is drawn nicely on the outside and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Mendelssohn will seek to become the 11th 3-year-old to win the Cigar Mile, in what is the 30th running of the race (previously known as the NYRA Mile). Mendelssohn set the pace in the Travers, where he finished second to Catholic Boy, and in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he wound up fifth behind Accelerate. Both of those races were at 1 1/4 miles. Still, at the shorter distance and breaking from the rail, Mendelssohn figures to be sent running by jockey Ryan Moore.
“We think that’s the way for him to tackle these races,” said T.J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O’Brien. “He seems to like being up there.”
Pat On the Back came within a nose of defeating the Grade 1-winning Diversify in the Commentator Stakes going a one-turn mile at Belmont in May. He has won two New York-bred stakes around one turn since, including the Empire Classic going 1 1/8 miles Oct. 20 at Belmont.
“He seems to really run to his competition and even more so in a couple of races this year he’s exceeded them, too,” trainer Jeremiah Englehart said. “I’m pretty confident the Pat On the Back I want to see that day will show up.”
Sunny Ridge, trained by Jason Servis, won the State Dinner Stakes around one turn and was second to Patternrecognition in the Kelso.
True Timber, Timeline, and Stan the Man complete the field.
The Cigar Mile goes as race 9 on a 10-race card that begins at 11:30 a.m. and includes the Grade 2 Remsen, Grade 2 Demoiselle, and Grade 3 Go for Wand.
Copper Town, by Speightstown
Last 3 Beyers: 101-106-98
◗ Lightly raced but extremely talented runner makes graded stakes debut off one race in 420 days.
◗ In his allowance wins, he’s beaten the likes of Backyard Heaven and Patternrecognition, horses that went on to become graded stakes winners.
◗ Showed ability to win from off the pace last out after recording his two previous wins on the front end.
Patternrecognition, by Adios Charlie
Last 3 Beyers: 102-100-100
◗ Skipped the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile after front-running score in Grade 2 Kelso on Sept. 22.
“I just know this horse really needs extended time in between races,” Brown said.
◗ His two best speed figures have come in one-turn mile races.
Mendelssohn, by Scat Daddy
Last 3 Beyers: 100-101-99
◗ Half-brother to champion mare Beholder is still chasing that elusive Grade 1 dirt win and will likely be the one to catch from the rail.
◗ May have been in need of a race when he finished a well-beaten third to Firenze Fire in the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont in July, his last race at one mile.
Pat On the Back, by Congrats
Last 3 Beyers: 91-96-98
◗ His nose lose to Diversify in the Commentator Stakes in May came with the benefit of a track that favored closers.
◗ He has won two New York-bred stakes this year, including the Empire Classic, a race from which third-place finisher Mr. Buff has won two straight allowance races against open company.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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