September 23, 2020

Mind Control repels challenges en route to Jerome victory

Hopeful (G1) winner Mind Control led throughput to take the Jerome (Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photography)

Mind Control withstood pressure from Souper Jackpot early and a bid from Our Braintrust late to take the $150,000 Jerome at Aqueduct on Tuesday, the first Road to the Kentucky Derby series race of 2019 for newly turned three-year-olds.

Under John Velazquez, Mind Control set early fractions of :24.16, :48.40, and 1:13.78 while under steady pressure from second choice. Turning back that rival rounding the turn, Mind Control then fended off Our Braintrust in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:39.06 for one mile on a good track.

This was the second career stakes win for Mind Control who registered a 10-1 upset of the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga in his stakes debut on Labor Day.

“I wanted to put him in the race and make sure that I was in a good position where if someone was going crazy, I could just sit off the speed,” Velazquez said. “I broke well and got the position I wanted in the first part of the race. I saw the other horse on the outside [Souper Jackpot], he didn’t want to go, so I got close to him and by the turn we both came in and kind of sat there. Down the lane, I remember from Saratoga [Hopeful] he opens up and he waits, so I waited until they came after him to get after him really hard and he responded really well.”

Owned in partnership by the Brunetti family’s Red Oak Stable and Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Mind Control paid $5 as the 3-2 favorite in the field of six.

Maryland shipper Our Braintrust, a 9-1 chance, finished four lengths ahead of Family Biz, with Gates of Dawn a half-length farther back in fourth. As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the first four finishers earned Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1, respectively.

Aqueduct will stage three more races in the series: the $250,000 Withers (G3) on February 2, the $300,000 Gotham (G3) on March 9, and $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) on April 6. The purse of the Wood would rise to $1 million if Mind Control or another Grade 1 winner is declared an official starter.

“He ran the way he has been training and we’ll look forward to the next step,” trainer Greg Sacco said about the Withers. “With him being a Grade 1 winner, the Wood goes up to a million [via a purse bonus]. We would take every race, race by race, but it certainly is appetizing and enticing.”

Second to eventual graded stakes winner Call Paul in his debut at Delaware Park and later a graduate at Monmouth Park prior to the Hopeful, Mind Control has now earned $323,400. He was a non-factor in his most recent outing, finishing seventh of 13 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Mind Control was bred in Kentucky by Red Oak and is by Stay Thirsty and out of the stakes-winning Feel That Fire, by Lightnin N Thunder.