‘Very Smart’ Mind Control On Target For Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

by | 10.21.2018 | 2:38pm
Mind Control and John Velazquez take the G1 Hopeful Stakes

Mind Control came out of his second consecutive breeze in good order and remains on target for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 2 at Churchill, trainer Greg Sacco said by phone Sunday morning.

The Stay Thirsty colt made a splash in his stakes debut, winning the seven-furlong Grade 1 Hopeful by three-quarters of a length over Mucho on September 3 at Saratoga. After breaking his maiden at second asking on August 12 at his home base of Monmouth Park, Mind Control earned an 84 Beyer for his Hopeful win in the eight-horse field.

The original plan was for Mind Control to make one more start before the Juvenile, but he was scratched from the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on October 6 when he came down with a fever prior to the race.

“The fever was just an unfortunate thing, but he was never sick. The bloodwork was perfect there and the bloodwork has been perfect here in Jersey, so we weren't dealing with a sick racehorse,” Sacco said. “It's a shame he spiked a temperature, but everything has been good since.”

Working in company with Candy Cane Lane, Mind Control breezed six furlongs in 1:13.80 Saturday at Monmouth. That built on his five-furlong work in 1:02.00 over the same track on October 14.

“His first work back let him stretch his legs and yesterday, we asked a little bit more, and he just did it well and [stayed] within himself,” Sacco said. “His regular exercise rider Benny Sanchez said he felt as good as he ever did and real strong. He was bouncing around the barn this morning. We'll have one more work and if everything goes well, we'll fly him out on the 29th.”

Mind Control has stretched out in distance in each of his three career starts, beginning with his runner-up effort at 5 ½ furlongs on July 5 at Delaware Park. He will now take aim at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile 1 1/16-mile distance, which will mark his first race at longer than a mile.

“From all indications, it doesn't look like he'll have any distance limitations for a mile and a sixteenth,” Sacco said. “You don't know until you try a horse going two turns. [I think] he'll handle the distance well. We've been pleased with his training.”

Mind Control has consistently either set the speed of the race or been right off the pacesetter, though Sacco said Mind Control doesn't need one particular type of trip to be successful. His conditioner also said jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will pick up the mount for the Juvenile.

“I think he'll be able to rate off of horses and he [can be] a horse who doesn't need the lead,” Sacco said. “For Irad, once he gets open, I think he'll be forwardly placed, and we'll leave the rest up to him.”

Mind Control, owned by Red Oak Stable and Madaket, has impressed Sacco with his intelligence.

“He's one of the smartest horses I've ever trained, if not the smartest. He's like an older horse,” Sacco said. “He's shipped to Delaware in the blistering heat and handled it well. He went to Monmouth and Saratoga. He's a horse who brings his track with him. I don't foresee any reason he can't handle Churchill. The good horses do overcome things. One of his best attributes, besides being talented, is that he's very smart. There's no wasted energy. On race day, he puts his game face on.”

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