SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Breeder/co-owner Red Oak Stable’s Mind Control kicked off his 3-year-old season with a strong workmanlike return to victory in Tuesday’s $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.
Breaking quickly from post 3 as the 3/2 favorite under John Velazquez, Mind Control soon found himself dueling up front with Souper Jackpot to his outside through opening fractions of :24.16, :48.40, and 1:13.78. Beginning to creep ahead in the far turn, Mind Control turned for home with a slight advantage and began inching away gradually with every step. Put to task inside the final furlong, the Greg Sacco trainee repelled a late bid from Our Braintrust before crossing the wire in a final time of 1:39.06 for the 8-furlong event over the fast main track.
“I wanted to put him in the race and make sure that I was in a good position where if someone was going crazy, I could just sit off the speed,” Velazquez said. “I broke well and got the position I wanted in the first part of the race. I saw the other horse on the outside, he didn’t want to go, so I got close to him, and by the turn, we both came in and kind of sat there. Down the lane, I remember from Saratoga he opens up and he waits, so I waited until they came after him to get after him really hard, and he responded really well.”
Unable to reel in the winner, Our Braintrust was well-clear for second by 4 lengths over Family Biz, who caught Gates of Dawn late for third. Souper Jackpot weakened in the lane to fifth, outrunning only Direct Order to complete the order of finish.
The Jerome is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Mind Control earned 10 points for the win, with Our Braintrust receiving 4 for second, Family Biz 2 for third, and Gates of Dawn 1 for fourth.
Mind Control’s win was a return to form for the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes winner who was a flat seventh last out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes. The 3-year-old son of Stay Thirsty now carries a record of 5-3-1-0 with earnings of $323,400 for Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables.
“He took the heat from (Souper Jackpot) down the backside,” Sacco said. “He was at his throatlatch the whole way, and then the other horse came to him at the 1/8 pole and he spurted away. He’s still green and learning. We’re overwhelmed with this performance today. Of course, when you run like that, it’s hard to fault the way he ran today.”
Mind Control returned $5 to win, $3.90 to place, and $2.80 to show. Our Braintrust brought back $5 to place and $3.40 to show, while Family Biz paid $3 to show.