by NYRA Press Office
Qurbaan gets his nose down to upset G2 Bernard Baruch
Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable's Mind Control showed his speed every step of the way to win the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful by 3 1/4 lengths under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez in 1:22.99 for the seven furlongs on the main track Monday, Closing Day, at Saratoga Race Course.
The 2-year-old colt by Stay Thirsty earned his second straight victory and first at Saratoga since breaking his maiden in his second career start on August 12 at Monmouth Park for trainer Gregory Sacco, who captured his first career Grade 1 victory.
"We had a lot of horse at the quarter pole," Sacco said. "Johnny said he was actually waiting a little bit. He’s still a little green and learning. "It’s my first Grade 1 [win] so it’s real special. I’m the son of a trainer. My dad never had the opportunity to train these types of horses. It’s very meaningful. It’s a great feeling. I have my whole family here and I can’t be any happier."
Mind Control was sent under a rapid pace from the gate under Velazquez, but was kept in close company by Nitrous to his outside down the backside while Sombeyay sat in range from the rail, while Derby Date, who recovered from stumbling at the break rated along in fourth to his outside. Mind Control and Nitrous battled head-to-head through an opening quarter in 22.96 seconds, and a half-mile in 45.68 as Mucho, the even-money favorite off his maiden breaking 9 ¼ length victory less than a month ago, was called on for run by jockey Jose Ortiz.
Turning for home, Mucho made a sweeping move to the outside of Mind Control and Nitrous, and with three-quarters run in 1:10.17, the trio led the field of five others through the stretch. Mucho tried to advance to the outside of Nitrous as Mind Control kept his path along the inside, and refusing to be denied kept his advantage to the wire while Mucho took the runner-up spot 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Nitrous, a half-length of Sombeyay in fourth.
"Our intent was to let Nitrous go because the way he rated last time, we thought if we got him in position, Johnny could make a move on him when he thought it was the right time," said Sacco. "He has gears. He ran a great race against [Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner] Call Paul and then at Monmouth, but then you have to do it on the big show."
For Velazquez, the victory gave him his 23rd victory at the meet to close out the last of 18 Grade 1 stakes at the 40-day Saratoga season.
"I told Gregory earlier I was going to try to come out running and get position early in the race," Velazquez said. "The horse didn’t want to be on the lead and fortunately it worked out that way. He settled pretty easy along the backstretch and got settled to the turn. Once we reached the three-eighths pole and I asked him, he was full of run. I was real proud of the way he finished he came on and never relinquished."
Mind Control has earnings of $220,900 from three career starts, and may be headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 4 at Churchill Downs according to Sacco.
"I’ll have to discuss it with the [owners], but I would think so," He said. "I don’t think the distance will give him limitations. The way he’s trained and galloped out last race, he’s just a genuine horse. He has a ton of ability the main thing is that he’s so smart. He acts like an older horse and does everything right. For a young horse, it’s a big plus. He’ll go back tomorrow morning to Monmouth. We’ll savor this win and go from there."
Rounding out the order of finish was Dream Maker, Thatwouldbegrand, Backtohisroots and Derby Date.
Mind Control was sent off at 10-1, returning $22.20 for a $2 win wager.
One race earlier, Shadwell Stable’s Qurbaan prevailed in a blanket finish to win the 60th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on the Mellon turf. The first U.S. start for the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred by Speightstown proved to be a fruitful one for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, as Qurbaan rallied from near the back of the pack to get a nose in front of Juddmonte Farm homebreds Forge and Projected at the wire.
Voodoo Song, trying for his sixth consecutive win over two summers at Saratoga, took up his customary position at the head of the field, drawing clear by as much as four lengths up the backstretch through fractions of 24.13 and 47.89, with Projected leading the rest of the group. Voodoo Song was headed by Forge at the top of the stretch, while Qurbaan rallied with a four-wide move down the lane. Qurbaan, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., joined Projected joined Forge near the eighth pole as Voodoo Song faded along the rail and the trio battled it out to the finish line.
The winning time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:40. Qurbaan, off at odds of 13-1, returned $28.
The victory was the sixth overall for Qurbaan in 14 career starts, with his first five coming in France. Saturday’s $137,500 winner’s share of the Bernard Baruch purse improved his earnings to $313,108.
“We were trying to run him in an allowance race that didn’t go for a while,” said McLaughlin. “We didn’t have many options but to go into the stakes. He’s a stakes horse, obviously. He’s won five races all around the world. I was worried right up until the wire, but we got thankfully we got there. I’m very happy with the photo; we’ve had a couple of close one’s this meet. After 24 and 47, I thought we had no chance, but he responded very well and ran great. We’re happy to have him in the barn.”