Mind Control gets the bob in Saratoga's Allen Jerkens Stakes

August 24, 2019 02:50pm
Mind Control gets the bob in Saratoga's Allen Jerkens Stakes
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Shancelot looked as if he had Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes wrapped up until the final strides at Saratoga, where the previously unbeaten sprinter was quickly caught, then edged out by Mind Control.

Going back to last season, Mind Control won the Hopeful (G1) at the same trip and returned for another top-level score at age 3. He nosed out runner-up Hog Creek Hustle and Shancelot on Saturday in a three-horse photo for the win.

The final time was 1:21.43 after Shancelot, who had won the Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga last month in one of the most impressive performances of the year, opened with fractions of 23.15, 45.58 and 1:09.01 from the rail in a field of nine.

Gregg Sacco-trained Mind Control, however, kept driving, getting the head bob under jockey John Velazquez.

The Kentucky-bred son of Stay Thirsty paid $22.80 in earning his fifth career victory over 10 starts.

After winning the Bay Shore Stakes (G3) on April 6 at Aqueduct, Mind Control was a disappointing eighth June 8 at Belmont Park in a Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) won by Hog Creek Hustle.

Sacco and his brother Rick, of co-owner Red Oak Stable, picked out Laurel Park’s black-type Concern Stakes on July 14 as a bridge between the Woody Stephens and Allen Jerkens.

Mind Control ran third in the Concern after a rough trip and entered the Allen Jerkens at a generous 10-1 price.

“We had two nightmare trips leading up to this,” Sacco said. “He trained fabulously leading up to this race.

“My brother Rick picked out the race at Laurel because he thought the six-week spacing would be good. He was blocked the whole, entire stretch that day. He was so much the best that it was heartbreaking. But our plan was to have him peak for this race.”

Mind Control has now made two career starts at Saratoga and earned Grade 1 scores in both races.

“A lot of horses, they don’t improve from 2 to 3 and this horse did,” Sacco said. “I don’t know if he’s a little underrated — we stayed in New York for the winter — but other than the two troubled trips, he’s done nothing wrong.”

Shancelot went to the gates Saturday a commanding 1-5 favorite and was in position for his first Grade 1 score.

The Jorge Navarro trainee couldn’t hold off the late closers though, perhaps showing the effects of a dominant but grueling 12 ½-length Amsterdam win.


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