Under pressure from the start, Mind Control dug deep and found more down the stretch to post an upset win Monday in the $350,000 Hopeful (G1), the closing-day feature at Saratoga.
Kept honest by Nitrous through a :22.96 opening quarter and a :45.68 half-mile, Mind Control turned back that rival in upper stretch, led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, and repelled a late bid from even-money favorite Mucho to win by three parts of a length.
“He settled pretty easy along the backstretch and got settled to the turn,” jockey John Velazquez said. “Once we reached the three-eighths pole and I asked him, he was full of run. I was real proud of the way he finished he came on and never relinquished.”
Owned by Red Oak Stable and Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stable, Mind Control paid $22.20 and covered seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:22.99. Mucho finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Nitrous, who had a half-length on Sanford (G3) winner Sombeyay.
“It’s my first Grade 1 [win] so it’s real special,” trainer Gregory Sacco said. “I’m the son of a trainer. My dad never had the opportunity to train these types of horses. It’s very meaningful. It’s a great feeling. I have my whole family here and I can’t be any happier.”
Second in his July 5 debut at Delaware Park to eventual Saratoga Special (G2) victor Call Paul, Mind Control rebounded to break his maiden by three lengths at Monmouth Park on August 12. He’s now earned $220,900.
“I’ll have to discuss [running in the Breeders’ Cup] with the [owners], but I would think so,” said Sacco about the colt’s Breeders’ Cup aspirations. “I don’t think the distance will give him limitations. The way he’s trained and galloped out last race, he’s just a genuine horse.
“He’ll go back tomorrow morning to Monmouth. We’ll savor this win and go from there.”
Mind Control was bred in Kentucky by Red Oak Stable and is by Stay Thirsty and out of the stakes-winning Feel That Fire, by Lightnin N Thunder.