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Carter Preview: Red-Hot Mind Control Ready for Next Challenge
Mind Control prior to winning the H. Allen Jerkens (Credit: Michael Spector)

Carter Preview: Red-Hot Mind Control Ready for Next Challenge

ELMONT, NY – Trainer Greg Sacco’s multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control is primed and ready for his next big challenge in Saturday’s $250,000 Runhappy Carter Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park.

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Mind Control earned his first top-level victory in the 2018 Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga against fellow 2-year-olds. Nearly a year later, he returned to Saratoga and championed the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) in what became his final start of 2019.

Co-owned by Madaket Stables and breeder Red Oak Stable, he has won both 2020 starts – the Toboggan Handicap (G3) and the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) – and has won four of six total attempts at the Carter’s 7-furlong distance. The Carter, traditionally held at nearby Aqueduct, was postponed this year due to the pandemic before being added to the Belmont Park spring/summer stakes schedule.

The winner of the Carter will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

The Runhappy Carter Handicap serves as race 9 on the Saturday card at Belmont Park, which will also host the Fort Marcy Stakes (G2), the Westchester Stakes (G3), and the Intercontinental Stakes (G3). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on June 13 at Belmont Park with the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) (Longines Distaff). The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.

Let’s take a look at the full field for the Carter:

Check out our full-card picks for Saturday at Belmont Park!

#1 Firenze Fire – The multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter is seeking a berth into his fourth straight Breeders’ Cup event as he makes his first start for new trainer Kelly Breen. The Mr Amore Stable homebred previously competed in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

#2 Performer – The lightly-raced 4-year-old Speightstown colt is riding a four-race win streak that began with a maiden-breaking 6-furlong sprint and most recently extended in the 9-furlong Discovery Stakes (G3). Unraced since that late November event, he recently fired three straight bullet workouts in preparation for his 2020 debut.

#3 Still Having Fun – The Maryland-bred Old Fashioned gelding won three stakes in 2018, including the Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. Though winless since then, he hit the board in four stakes (two graded) during that time span and fired a bullet best-of-32 workout in his final timed trial.

#4 Nitrous – A two-time stakes winner to start 2019, he just missed winning last year’s Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) by a neck over the local main track. He made his seasonal debut in the 6-furlong Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park, where he finished just 2 lengths behind the winner.

#5 Network Effect – After managing only five starts during his first two years of racing, he makes his third appearance in 2020 after winning the 7-furlong Big Drama Stakes at Gulfstream Park against fellow Florida-breds. The 4-year-old Mark Valeski colt has only finished worse than second once and is undefeated from two starts at this distance.

#6 Midnightcharly – One of the most consistent Pennsylvania-bred runners anywhere, he beat his statesmen in the 7-furlong Lyman Stakes and was a neck behind his full older brother in the 6-furlong Banjo Picker Sprint Stakes two races later. His last competitive trip around a track resulted in a second-place finish behind Firenze Fire in last November’s Fabulous Strike Stakes.

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#7 American Anthem – A three-time graded stakes winner when based with a prior barn, Don Tiger purchased him from owner/breeder WinStar Farm last fall and transferred him to trainer Danny Gargan. He put forth two strong efforts to start the year and makes his first start since March when he was second in the 8-furlong Stymie Stakes.

#8 Bon Raison – He makes his first start for new trainer David Cannizzo after finishing third in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) in early March. That was his first time hitting the board in a graded stakes race, his eighth attempt at that level.

#9 Majestic Dunhill – One of two entries from the George Weaver barn, he made his first nine starts in turf sprints, winning his first stakes during that span. His first steps on dirt resulted in his second stakes victory in the 7-furlong City of Laurel Stakes. He has raced exclusively on dirt since.

#10 Mind Control – The expected favorite has won three straight, all at the graded stakes level, and became a millionaire after his latest triumph in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3). The 4-year-old Stay Thirsty colt’s lone off-the-board finish in a 7-furlong event came in last summer’s Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) over this course.

#11 Vekoma – The second George Weaver trainee in the field, he won the 2018 Nashua Stakes (G3) and the 2019 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1), where he finished 13th. Off from then until this past March, he was a 3 3/4-length winner of the inaugural 7-furlong Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park and has worked steadily for his second start of 2020.

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