by Teresa Genaro
It’s not often that bettors can get 5-1 on a Chad Brown horse in a Grade 1 race, but that’s exactly what the supporters of Patternrecognition got in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday.
The past performances of the five-year-old horse with only 10 starts before the Cigar Mile show plenty of lay-off lines, and the bay didn’t make his first start until he was four years old. But in his first start in a Grade 1, Patternrecognition was a pro, leading throughout to win by three-quarters of a length.
Breaking from post 8 under jockey Jose Ortiz, Patternrecognition had angled his way to the rail by the time the eight-horse field had left the chute. The duo maintained an easy lead despite early fractions of :22.88 and :45.68 – significantly faster than the Remsen, run one race earlier – with New York-bred Pat On the Back running a length behind in second. Competing in the United States for the sixth time since May, Mendelssohn raced on the rail in third.
Patternrecognition added a half-length to his lead coming into the stretch and, though Mendelssohn, Timber Town and Sunny Ridge all made a run at him, he was unthreatened to the wire, running the mile in 1:34.98. True Timber was second, a length in front of Sunny Ridge. Mendelssohn, favored at 8-5, finished 1 1/2 lengths farther back in fourth.
Pat On the Back, Stan the Man, Timeline and Copper Town completed the order of finish. Patternrecognition paid $12.80 as the third choice.
Ortiz enthusiastically pumped the air after crossing the wire, and as the jockey is hardly unfamiliar with Grade 1 wins, perhaps the extra exultation came as a result of how the jockey started his day: early this morning, his wife, Taylor, gave birth to the couple’s second child, a son.
“I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning,” said Ortiz, looking both happy and tired.
“The way he broke, I didn’t want to give the lead away, so I used my own judgment and took a shot and went straight to the rail and took the lead. He got pressured pretty good. I took a big risk because those weren’t the instructions, but it worked out.”
“I’m very proud of the judgment Jose used today,” Brown said. “I left it up to him and the fractions concerned me a touch, but this horse showed his heart.”
In 11 races, Patternrecognition has been worse than second only once, a fourth-place finish earlier this year at Belmont Park in his first start off a six-month layoff. Immensely talented, he was purchased as a two-year-old by L R K for $420,000 and is owned by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence.
Bred in Florida by Ocala Stud, Patternrecognition is by Adios Charlie and out of the High Cotton mare Almost a Valentine. He won his debut at Aqueduct in April last year, then reeled off a string of four runner-up finishes over the next six months before getting his second win in November of that year.
He was then off for six months before returning to be fourth and second in a pair of allowance/optional claimers at Belmont Park in May and June. The bay returned to the winner’s circle against that company at Saratoga in August and captured his stakes bow in Belmont’s Kelso Handicap (G2) last out on September 22. The Cigar Mile win in his third in a row.
“Obviously, he’s had some soundness issues along the way,” Brown said, “and I want to thank the owners for never giving up on this horse. He needed the time and they gave him the time to always get healthy when we needed to rest the horse. He showed the talent that we thought he had when they bought him what seems like forever ago as a two-year-old, and this is really a great moment for this horse. He deserves it.
“Because he’s had so many interruptions in his schedule,” Brown continued, “I was always trying to bridge him to a longer race off a sprint and it was always hard to get there because he always had a setback. Finally, he got very sound, to where I could train him consistently and get him out to that mile distance where his was very effective as well. This horse is a rare horse. He’s got that speed and he can carry it.”
Brown said that this race was the only target he had in mind for Patternrecognition this year, and no decisions have been made about whether he’ll run next year or be retired.
Whatever happens, Brown got his second Cigar Mile win (the first was two years ago with Connect); Ortiz got his first, and a son; the horse got his first Grade 1; and the bettors got a price.