Notes & Quotes From the G1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes: Mind Control

(Mind Control, on the inside, inches to the win in the G1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga / Photo by Chelsea Durand & Courtesy of NYRA)

Mind Control made a determined rally to win the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy in a four-way photo on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Backed as the 10-1 second choice in the field of nine, Mind Control settled in the clear in third as 3-10 favorite Shancelot set moderate fractions of 23.15 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.58 for the half in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Jockey John Velazquez — Mind Control (1st):

“I really didn’t know if I had it,” said Velazquez. “I got beat twice on the wire here, 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.'”

Mind Control was racing at Saratoga for the first time since winning the Grade 1 Hopeful last September in his third start. He opened his 3-year-old campaign with three starts at Aqueduct Racetrack, winning the Jerome in January, finishing third in the Grade 3 Gotham in March, and capturing the Grade 3 Bay Shore in April. In his two most recent outings, he was eighth in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens in June at Belmont Park and third as the 2-5 favorite in the Concern Stakes on July 14 at Laurel Park.

Trainer Greg Sacco — Mind Control:

“His last two trips were so brutal,” said Sacco. “The Woody Stephens was a nightmare. My brother picked out a great spot for him in Maryland and it wasn’t really a step down. He wanted the six weeks and he thought the [Grade 2] Amsterdam [on July 28 at Saratoga] would be a tough heat and it turned out to be an unbelievable heat, and he didn’t want a month back. 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.”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

More From The Pressbox Staff