Coastal Mission draws rail in G2 Cigar Mile

Coastal Mission, a West Virginia-bred standout from Coleswood Farm, is set to try for his first graded win in Saturday’s $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack. He’ll break from the rail with Arnaldo Bocachica in the irons and has been lined at 12-1.

Trained by Jeff Runco, Coastal Mission enters this race with an impressive six-race win streak.

Coastal Mission’s recent victories include an open-company score in the two-turn, seven-furlong Russell Road and a state-bred win in the Sam Huff West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, covering 1 1/8 miles.

“We pick our spots and it’s time to give him a chance in a spot like this. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him the last two and half years,” Runco said in a release.

Coastal Mission has done most of his work at his home track, Charles Town Races. But he’s also made several trips to Laurel Park, where his resume includes an allowance win early in his three-year-old season and a pair of stakes placings in Maryland-bred events as a two-year-old.

Now four, the Great Notion gelding will attempt to give Runco, a winner of nearly 4,700 races, just the second graded stakes win of his career. Runco previously won the 2008 edition of the Grade 3 Queens County Handicap with Researcher, perhaps better known as the winner of the first two editions of the then-ungraded, now Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

The versatile Coastal Mission has excelled at various distances, from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. His numbers are improving, and Runco believes that the one-turn mile configuration at Aqueduct will suit him well.

Breaking from the rail may complicate things, but Coastal Mission has the versatility to work out a trip.

“He doesn’t need the lead. It doesn’t matter to him – he can lay off the pace. It just depends how the race sets up,” Runco said.

Coastal Mission is a full-brother to multiple graded stakes-placed Lewisfield and has earned more than $566,000.

The Cigar Mile has attracted a bulky and evenly matched field of 12. The Todd Fincher-trained Senor Buscador is the 7-2 morning line favorite, and a win will put the five-year-old Mineshaft horse past the $1 million mark in earnings. A two-time graded stakes winner, he finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last time out.