Mind Control Goes Out In Style In Cigar Mile

Mind ControlSarah Andrew

Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable's Mind Control (Stay Thirsty), who has competed in 27 stakes since his debut in 2018, closed out his career in style Saturday, scoring his 11th black-type victory and third at the highest level in Aqueduct's GI Cigar Mile.

With GI Pennsylvania Derby runner-up Zandon (Upstart) bet down to 3-5, Mind Control was dispatched as the 3-1 second choice, a gift to his faithful fans in his career finale. Away quickest of all, the bay was outrun by 58-1 shot Outlier (Not This Time) and was content to stalk that rival from second through a :23.26 first quarter. The 6-year-old veteran was patiently handled by John Velazquez through a :46.55 half-mile with Get Her Number (Dialed In) tracking intently to his outside in third and White Abarrio (Race Day) not far behind. Mind Control sidled up beside Outlier at the three-quarter pole with Get Her Number joining him on the outside and White Abarrio sneaking up the fence to join the fray, making it four across the track turning for home.

Zandon ranged up five wide just off their heels, looking like he might join the group as Outlier threw in the towel and retreated. Mind Control, White Abarrio and Get Her Number locked horns, battling down the lane as Zandon unsuccessfully tried to play catch up. Mind Control forged clear in the final sixteenth to complete his career on high note with a head success over Get Her Number. It was a half-length back to White Abarrio in third and another two back to Zandon in fourth.

“If you like horse racing, you've got to love this horse,” said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “He's cool. He's done it consistently year after year at multiple distances. He's a great horse to be able to train. He's remarkably consistent and shows up every morning.”

He continued, “When he broke well, I was happy and there was a moment in the first sixteenth of a mile where I wasn't so sure if he was liking the surface, which a couple of times in the past he hadn't cared for. But then once he got into a good rhythm down the backside, I was confident. He's the type of horse that if you get into a battle with him, he's going to fight.”

Pletcher added, “Stay Thirsty won [the 2012 Cigar Mile] in probably one of the best head bobs we've ever had in racing, so it's kind of cool that his offspring was able to win it.”

“The last two times he ran over a track like that, he was out of the pack,” Velazquez said. “The first sixteenth of a mile, he broke good and I was like, 'Oh, please. Don't do this to me.' He seemed like he was going to go, but he came out of the bridle. So, I passed the chute and kind of put him into the bridle and he got comfortable. I felt much better the way he was going towards the turn and when the other horse [Get Her Number] came to him, he got competitive. So then I felt like he was going to fight. When that horse put his head in front of me and didn't pass me, I was like, 'This is going to be a fight here.' And sure enough, I went left handed on him, he responded and put his head in front and it was a really good fight to the wire.”

On what Mind Control means to him, the Hall of Fame pilot said, “I've been around this horse for five years and he's been a really decent horse and shows up to the big dances with really tough horses–and he does it all the time. I'm a little sad to see him go because he's one of the horses that kind of keeps me in the game and kind of looking forward to these kinds of races. He's gone, so I'll have to start looking for something else to keep me in the game.”

Scoring his first Grade I win in the 2018 Hopeful S. at Saratoga, Mind Control took the Jerome S. and GIII Bay Shore S. in 2019, and captured his second Grade I that year with a gutsy score in Saratoga's GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. Opening 2020 with wins in the GIII Toboggan S. and GIII Tom Fool H., both at the Big A for former trainer Greg Sacco, the homebred did not visit the winner's circle again until July of 2021, taking the GII John A. Nerud S. in his first start for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher. He won the Parx Dirt Mile two starts later and was third in this year's GI Carter H. Off the board in the GI Churchill Downs S. in May, Mind Control scored a gritty victory over Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow) in Monmouth's GIII Salvator Mile June 18. Completing the trifecta in the GII Charles Town Classic Aug. 26, he crossed the line a neck second in the Sept. 24 Parx Dirt Mile, but was promoted to first via DQ.

Pedigree Notes:

Mind Control is one of five graded winners by Stay Thirsty, who now stands in California, and is his only North American Grade I winner. He is also the sire of a Group 1 winner in South America. The winner is out of fellow Red Oak homebred Feel That Fire (Lightnin N Thunder), a stakes-winning half-sister to MSW & GSP King For A Day (Uncle Mo) and a full to MSW Ima Jersey Girl. Her 3-year-old filly Goddess of Fire (Mineshaft), retained by Red Oak and trained by Pletcher, ran second in both the GII Rachel Alexandra S. and GII Gulfstream Park Oaks this term. Feel That Fire's juvenile filly White Hot Gold (Candy Ride {Arg}) debuted at Tampa Saturday just eight minutes before her half-brother's swansong, finishing sixth. The 15-year-old mare failed to get in foal to Uncle Mo for 2021, but had a filly that sire in February of this year. She visited both Curlin and Uncle Mo this spring.

Saturday, Aqueduct
CIGAR MILE H. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GI, $750,000, Aqueduct, 12-3, 3yo/up, 1m, 1:35.53, sy.
1–MIND CONTROL, 122, h, 6, by Stay Thirsty
                1st Dam: Feel That Fire (SW, $147,280), by Lightnin N Thunder
                2nd Dam: Ubetwereven, by French Deputy
                3rd Dam: Raysor Lake, by Private Account
O-Red Oak Stable (Brunetti) & Madaket Stables, LLC; B-Red
Oak Stable (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-John R. Velazquez.
$412,500. Lifetime Record: 29-12-3-6, $2,185,834. *1/2 to
Goddess of Fire (Mineshaft), GISP, $335,875. Werk Nick
Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Get Her Number, 120, c, 4, Dialed In–Fancier, by Bernstein.
($45,000 2yo '20 OBSAPR). O-Gary Barber; B-Philip & Brenda
Robertson (KY); T-Peter Miller. $150,000.
3–White Abarrio, 118, c, 3, Race Day–Catching Diamonds, by
Into Mischief. ($7,500 Ylg '20 OBSWIN; $40,000 2yo '21
OBSMAR). O-C Two Racing Stable & Antonio Pagnano;
B-Spendthrift Farm LLC (KY); T-Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. $90,000.
Margins: HD, HF, 2. Odds: 3.15, 8.50, 3.65.
Also Ran: Zandon, Outlier, Double Crown. Scratched: O Besos.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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