Mind Control camp 'looking forward' to Shancelot showdown

August 14, 2019 10:46am
Mind Control camp 'looking forward' to Shancelot showdown
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

The connections of Mind Control have always expected the colt to take his surface with him, running the son of Stay Thirsty at seven tracks across his nine starts. But some homegrown insight aided them in deciding not to ship last month to Saratoga.

Rick Sacco, racing manager for co-owner Red Oak Stable, had seen
Shancelot train at Mind Control's Monmouth Park base leading up to the July 28 Amsterdam (G2) and figured that wasn’t the best time to butt heads with the Jorge Navarro trainee who demolished his competition, winning by 12 1/2 lengths.

As Shancelot returns Aug. 24 for the
H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), also at the Spa, Mind Control will be waiting.

“He’s training as good as a horse can train and the best that I’ve seen him physically,” Sacco said. “He’s carrying great weight, bright-eyed, and he breezed incredibly easy over the weekend. I know Shancelot is a superior horse and blew my mind the last time I watched him run, but he’s got to go breeze, we’ve all got to ship, and we’ve all got to load up in the gate.

“Then game on. I just know that from our camp, our horse is coming in great.”

A Grade 1 winner at age 2 and a Grade 3 winner this season, Mind Control ran third in his most-recent start, Laurel Park’s Concern Stakes, which Sacco termed “a base-on-balls kind of race.”

“I knew Shancelot was going to the Amdsterdam, and I watched the horse breeze lights out,” Sacco said. “For us to do that back to back — the Amsterdam and Allen Jerkens — would be asking a lot.”

So rather, he received an easier tuneup.

Mind Control, who’s trained by Gregg Sacco, Rick’s brother, and campaigned in partnership with Madaket Stables, still nearly proved best that day. He finished only a neck away from winning despite having to steady and subsequently getting blocked near the sixteenth pole.

In the Allen Jerkens, run on the Travers Stakes (G1) undercard, Mind Control will be cycling back from what Rick Sacco termed one of just two “bad” races in his career. Last year, a two-turn experiment went poorly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and on June 8, Mind Control was off slow and out-run in the Woody Stephens (G1).

But Mind Control possesses obvious talent, too, having won Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes (G1) last September, Aqueduct’s Jerome in January and the Bay Shore (G3) back at the Big A in April.

The Allen Jerkens, a $500,000 race, runs at seven furlongs.

“I know Shancelot’s pointing to that race,” Sacco reiterated, “but really, this is the best Mind Control’s been since we’ve had him, so we’re looking forward to running.”

Beyond that, the Red Oak team will be looking for its next Mind Control.

Sacco mentioned two juveniles to watch are the Gregg Sacco-trained Hedonistic, who’s breezing at Monmouth Park, and Todd Pletcher-trained Spiritual King, who’s gearing up for his career in Florida. Both were purchased last spring for six figures.

My Gift From Above is also the twice-raced half sibling to Mind Control. The filly finished second over the weekend in maiden special weight company at Monmouth going 5 1/2 furlongs. Sacco said a two-turn debut is next for the daughter of Bodemeister.

2019 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1)


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