In lieu of turkey this year, defending meet champion owner Maggi Moss’ and trainer Tom Amos had their Control Stake well done on Thursday afternoon when the sophomore son of Discreetly Mine – the lone 3-year-old in the field – proved swiftest of the swift in the 91st running of the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Breaking on top from post five, the bay colt held off Robert Persons and Earl Conrad Sanderson, Jr.’s Officer Griffin throughout and powered home to a 1¼-length victory, giving the owner-trainer team their third victory in the race and second in a row following Delaunay’s romp in 2014.
Ridden by Colby Hernandez, Control Stake traveled the six-furlong distance in 1:09.83 on the fast main track after setting earlier fractions of 21.59, 44.62 and 56.62. Sent off at 5-1, the now-six-time winner from 12 starts and three-time stakes winner returned $12.40, $7.40 and $3.20, earning $36,000 to boost his career bankroll to $266,760. The Thanksgiving was his third run and second victory for Moss after being privately purchased from Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence in June, while remaining in the Amoss barn.
“He felt great,” Hernandez said. “He was going really quick, but he was very relaxed and finished up strong.”
“This horse ran a really good race,” Amoss said. “It was Maggi’s idea to run in this race. Obviously she knew what she was doing. (Control Stake) is a quick horse. That last sixteenth of a mile Colby did a great job. He’s very smart on a horse and rides them to the finish. He’s one of the best young riders out there.”
Officer Griffin, a stakes winner three back for trainer Joe Sharp, stayed on well for second under Manny Esquivel at odds of 6-1, returning $7.80 and $3.60. Graded stakes-winning millionaire and race favorite Clearly Now, ridden by Jose Valdivia, Jr., at odds of 4-5, finished quickest of all to be a half-length astern Officer Griffin in third, returning $2.10 to show.
“I had a good trip,” Esquivel said. “He broke good and I put him in the race. At the top of the stretch I thought I could be the winner, but (Control Stake) got away from me the last eighth. It’s a long stretch.”
“I had a good trip, he just ran out room,” Valdivia said. “It’s too short for him.”
The field for the Thanksgiving Handicap was completed by Speightsong, Ride on Curlin, Rugged, Nates Mineshaft and Solar Charge.
Source: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots