SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Red Oak Stable’s homebred Mind Control possessed the lead throughout the race, no matter who challenged him, en route to winning Monday’s Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.
Breaking from post 2 under John Velazquez at odds of 10/1, Mind Control held command while running heads apart with Nitrous through opening splits of :22.96 and :45.68. Dispatching of that foe off the far turn, Mind Control emerged onto the stretch with a slight lead but was soon challenged by the even-money favorite Mucho. Refusing to yield for the run to the wire, the Greg Sacco trainee hit the wire with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:22.99 for the 7-furlong main track sprint.
“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 3/8 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.”
Mucho was well-clear of a weakening Nitrous, who staved off Sombeyay by a 1/2-length for third. Dream Maker crossed in fifth ahead of Thatwouldbegrand, while Backtohisroots and Derby Date were far behind and completed the order of finish.
Mind Control’s win was his second straight following his maiden-breaking triumph at Monmouth Park on August 12, with his lone loss coming in his debut on July 5 at Delaware Park. The 2-year-old son of Stay Thirsty has now earned $220,900 for co-owners Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables.
“We had a lot of horse at the 1/4 pole,” Sacco said. “Johnny said he was actually waiting a little bit. He’s still a little green and learning.”
Mind Control returned $22.20 to win, $7.80 to place, and $5 to show. Mucho brought back $3.10 to place and $2.40 to show, while Nitrous paid $3.50 to show.
“It’s my first Grade 1, so it’s real special,” Sacco said. “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.”