SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ Mind Control came running late a flurry of runners and was able to put his nose down on the wire and win Saturday’s $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes Presented by Runhappy (G1) at Saratoga.
Breaking from post 6 under John Velazquez at 10/1 odds, Mind Control sat in a close stalking position. Meanwhile, Call Paul applied early pressure to the 1/5 favorite Shancelot through fractions of :23.15 and :45.58.
Midway through the far turn, Mind Control began to lose ground slightly while running three-wide, but Velazquez didn’t panic. Shancelot looked gone at the top of the stretch, but midway home, he suddenly began dropping back.
Behind him, Velazquez put Mind Control to a drive and he began to rally. Shooting past a weakening Call Paul, Mind Control was soon joined by Rowayton and Hog Creek Hustle in his late push. The three collared Shancelot in the shadow of the wire, and as they crossed in a final time of 1:21.43, it was too close to call.
A photo ultimately went the way of the Greg Sacco-trained Mind Control by a nose over Hog Creek Hustle, with Shancelot and Rowayton just a nose and a neck behind.
“I really didn’t know if I had it,” Velazquez said. “I got beat twice on the wire here (before) and I didn’t want to jinx myself. (Greg) asked me, and I said, ‘I don’t think I got it, (but) let’s see what happens.”
Nitrous was 3 lengths behind all of the fun to take fifth by a head over a weakened Call Paul. Borracho, The Big S and Twelfth Labour completed the order of finish.
Mind Control’s win was his third of the year but his first in three starts, with his most recent victory coming in the 7-furlong Bay Shore Stakes (G3). He had finished a disappointing eighth in the Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) and a close third in the Concern Stakes prior to today’s event. The 3-year-old son of Stay Thirsty, bred by Red Oak Stable, now sports a record of 10-5-2-1 with $805,000 earned.
“His last two trips were so brutal,” Sacco said. “The Woody Stephens was a nightmare. My brother picked out a great spot for him in Maryland (in the Concern) and it wasn’t really a step down. This was the race we were pointing for since the Woody, all summer. We wanted him in peak performance. He’s a gutsy horse. I can’t say enough about him and about my staff and the way they prepared him.”
Mind Control returned $22.80 to win, $8.60 to place, and $3.80 to show. Hog Creek Hustle brought back $8.40 to place and $3.40 to show, while Shancelot paid $2.10 to show.