(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.”