New York Hall of fame jockey John Velázquez knew exactly what to do with Hoist The Gold on Saturday in the Grade 2, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap. That was go to the lead as soon as possible. It proved to be a winning move.
On the Aqueduct track that was muddy and sealed, out front early was the winning strategy all day long. When the gates opened in the 10th race of the day, Velázquez hustled the son of Mineshaft to the front of the 12-horse field from post position 11.
The lead grew to a half-length, and the speedy fractions continued with the half-mile timed at 44.88 seconds.
By the time they finished six furlongs, Pipeline was having trouble keeping up with Hoist the Gold, the advantage grew to 1 1/2 lengths, and the fraction of 1:09.04 was still hot.
At the stretch call Velázquez had plenty of horse left and a five-length advantage, and the late runners had no chance as the 4-year-old hit the wire ahead by 4 1/2 lengths.
Velazquez won the Cigar Mile for the second year in a row and fourth time overall, having done it with Mind Control last year, Tonalist in 2015 and in 2001 with Left Bank.