Mind Control closes with authority in G3 Tom Fool
by NYRA Press Office
Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables' Mind Control, a dual Grade 1-winner on the New York Racing Association circuit, continued his stellar local form with a rallying score in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Gregg Sacco, the 4-year-old Stay Thirsty colt, bred in Kentucky by Red Oak Stable, settled in sixth position in the early running of the six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward, and was full of run late under Junior Alvarado to secure a dramatic 1 ¼-length score over Happy Farm.
Happy Farm, with Jose Lezcano up, battled his way to the early lead under pressure from Wentz with the quarter-mile zipping by in 22.87 seconds on the fast main track. Happy Farm, who captured the Grade 3 Fall Highweight here in December, continued to lead through the turn and put away Wentz with the Michelle Nevin-trained duo Wonderful Light and Skyler's Scramjet looking to pounce.
Happy Farm extended his lead to five lengths at the stretch call. But, Mind Control, under urging from Alvarado, gathered up ground at furious pace and earned a well-measured win in 1:10.88 under confident handling from Alvarado. Happy Farm completed the exacta, two lengths in front of Bon Raison.
Mr. Dougie Fresh, Wentz, Wonderful Light, Sicilia Mike and Skyler's Scramjet completed the order of finish.
Alvarado was subbing in for Hall of Famer John Velazquez who was committed to mounts at Tampa Bay Downs. The veteran rider said Mind Control has a nose for the wire.
"I was further back than I wanted to be, but he's an old pro and he knows where the wire is and when to put the run," said Alvarado. "As soon as I put him on the outside, past the three-eighths pole, he knew what was going on and started picking it up turning for home. I switched my stick to the left because it seemed like he responded to it. He was just flying. He was so strong at the end."
The talented bay colt, who arrived at the Tom Fool from a narrow nose score in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 18 at the Big A, is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap here on April 4.
"He's a special horse and he has some kick," said Sacco. "We'll take it one race at a time, but we'll savor this win and it should set us up nicely for the Carter."
Mind Control, who has won four of five starts at the Big A, posted winning efforts in the Jerome and Grade 3 Bay Shore last year. His NYRA ledger also includes a pair of Grade 1 wins at Saratoga Race Course, beginning with the Grade 1 Hopeful as a juvenile and the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens in August.
"He's like New York's darling horse and loves Aqueduct," said Sacco. "These stakes are rich and deep in tradition. As a trainer, you dream of running in them. It's a special thing to win them. New York is the crème de la crème of racing. To compete and win at the highest level is special for our team."
Mind Control banked $115,500 in victory, while improving his record to 7-2-1 from 12 starts. He returned $4.80 as the mutuel favorite.