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Verrazano, Capo Bastone drill for Cigar Mile; Honor Code breezes for Remsen

Capo Bastone (outside) earned the bullet by just .01 from Verrazano (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher)
Trainer Todd Pletcher's three contenders for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap -- Forty Tales, Capo Bastone, and Verrazano -- took to Belmont Park's fast training track on Sunday to turn in their penultimate breezes prior to the race, which will be held November 30 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

All three are three-year-old colts who are seeking their first victory against older horses. In their most recent starts, Forty Tales was second in the Bold Ruler Handicap on October 26 at Belmont, Verrazano was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on November 1 at Santa Anita, and Capo Bastone was 13th in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on November 2 at Santa Anita.

Multiple Grade 2 winner Forty Tales breezed four furlongs in :51 2/5.

Covering four furlongs in company later in the morning were King's Bishop victor Capo Bastone (:47.66) and Wood Memorial and Haskell Invitational winner Verrazano (:47.67 with Javier Castellano), the two fastest of 124 workouts at the distance on the training track. Click here for video of the move. 

"(Capo Bastone and Verrazano) been working together quite a bit," Pletcher said. "We were looking for a similar type of work from both of them. I think it worked well in the past (and) just felt like it was a good match-up.

"I thought both horses breezed really well. Both did it willingly, on the bridle, and gave me the indication they both bounced out of their Breeders' Cup races in good order.

"Forty Tales is a little less ambitious work horse," Pletcher added. "We thought he worked well for what he normally does."

Pletcher is expected to have contenders in all four graded stakes on the November 30 card at Aqueduct, and several others were out in force on the Belmont training track Sunday.

The trainer said he likely will run Intense Holiday (four furlongs in :49.27) in the Grade 2 Remsen for two-year-olds, Stopchargingmaria (:48 2/5) in the Grade 2 Demoiselle for two-year-old fillies, and Teen Pauline (four furlongs in :49.27) and Galloping Giraffe (four furlongs in :51 2/5) in the Grade 3 Comely for three-year-old fillies.

"I think (Intense Holiday) ran a sneaky good race (when fourth) in the Nashua (on November 3 at Aqueduct)," Pletcher said. "He had a troubled trip and should have been second with a little clearer run."

Pletcher added that Caixa Eletronica is expected to make a title defense in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving, November 28.

For Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, Champagne near-misser Honor Code breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 Sunday morning on Belmont Park's fast main track in preparation for the Remsen.

"He went very well and Shug said he was happy with the way he did it," said assistant trainer Buzz Tenney of the A.P. Indy colt, who in his only other start was a 4 1/2-length, last-to-first winner of a seven-furlong maiden race on August 31 at Saratoga. "He'll have one more breeze next weekend, and that will be it."

Tenney also reported that Imagining emerged from his first graded stakes win in Saturday's Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap in good order. A front-running winner of two of his three previous starts, the five-year-old Giant's Causeway horse displayed a new dimension in coming from off the pace in the 1 3/8-mile race.

"That was really nice to see," Tenney said. "The other thing we were pleased with was how well he acted shipping over to Aqueduct from Belmont. It seems as if he's really maturing in a big way recently."

McGaughey said after the race that Imagining could have one more start this year in California; if not, he would wait to launch his 2014 campaign in Florida.

Down at Palm Meadows on Sunday, Cigar Mile candidate Clearly Now breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 for trainer Brian Lynch.

"Lovely," Lynch said of the breeze. "I'm really happy. He finished up strong; we got him going the final eighth in :11."

A three-year-old owned by Up Hill Stable, Clearly Now is exiting a 1 1/2-length win over Forty Tales in the Bold Ruler, his first start wearing blinkers and first against older horses. He would be making his Grade 1 debut in the Cigar Mile.

"We're leaning (in favor of running in the Cigar Mile)," Lynch said. "He seems to be getting better and has improved with blinkers. He ran a great race the other day (in the Bold Ruler), and he got a great ride (from Jose Lezcano)."

Lynch said Clearly Now likely would breeze six furlongs next week at Palm Meadows prior to shipping to New York.

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