Mind Control wins Aqueduct's Toboggan in another photo finish

January 18, 2020 04:15pm

Mind Control began his 4-year-old season Saturday the same way he ended his 3-year-old campaign nearly five months ago: winning a graded stakes by the thinnest of margins.

The Gregg Sacco-trained Stay Thirsty colt got the head bob Saturday to take the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan Stakes. He edged runner-up Nicodemus by a nose, with third-place Sunny Ridge a head behind the top two over Aqueduct’s snow-dusted dirt. 

"He wasn't getting tired and knows how to put his nose down," Sacco said. "(Jockey John Velazquez) knows him and knows his characteristics and his habits. You saw the way he galloped out. It's exciting."

Mind Control made the Toboggan his first start since an Aug. 24 victory in Saratoga’s H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1). That race – which also involved a three-way photo finish­ – saw the colt edge fellow Grade 1 hero Hog Creek Hustle and flashy sprinter Shancelot.

Connections chose to rest Mind Control after the H. Allen Jerkens and point him to the type of races that may establish him as a top older sprinter/miler. The Red Oak Stable homebred, who Madaket Stables co-owns, now shows six wins from 11 career starts, including four graded stakes victories.

Mind Control went off Saturday under Velazquez as even-money favorite for the seven-furlong Toboggan. He sat second as Still Having Fun went the first quarter-mile in :23.64 seconds, then edged in front through the turn to make the half-mile in :46.76 seconds.

The two-time Grade 1 winner led the field into the stretch but remained under threat from four of the other six runners. Mind Control had just enough left in the tank to cross the wire first, stopping the clock in 1:24.23 for a win that returned $4.30.

"He's such a nice horse," Velazquez said. "He lets you do whatever you want with him. The only thing; he started to wait on the horses coming down the stretch, and I had to get him focused again to pay attention. I had to hit him left-handed, but I also didn't want to foul anyone and at the same time I wanted him to see the horses to his outside. Once he did, he got competitive right away."

Sacco said he'll "pencil in" the $400,000 Carter (G1) back at Aqueduct on April 4 for Mind Control's next start. That race also goes seven furlongs and could lead to a try in a race such as the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) this summer at Belmont Park.


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