Off Derby Trail, In Winner's Circle
Mind Control, off a second-place finish in the one-turn, one-mile Gotham Stakes, earned his second career graded stakes win by outdueling a game Much Better to win the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct.
With John Velazquez in the irons, 2-1 second choice Mind Control stalked comfortably in third as 6-5 favorite Much Better led the four-horse field through fractions of 22.33 and 45.14.
At the quarter-pole, Mind Control began his winning move. He hooked up with Much Better at the top the stretch and fought for the lead, with Mind Control taking command in the final furlong to win by 1 1/4 length. Following them was Call Paul, who was 5 3/4 lengths back in third, and Mucho. Mount Travers was scratched.
Mind Control completed the seven-furlong distance in a final time of 1:23.45 on a fast main track.
Returning $6.30 for a $2 win wager, the son of Stay Thirsty bred by Red Oak Stable boosted his bankroll to $520,900 from six starts for owners Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable.
Mind Control was making his first start at seven furlongs since winning the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last summer. Following a win in the Jerome and a runner-up effort in the Gotham, the connections decided to vacate the Kentucky Derby Trail even though they had 30 Derby points.
Gregory Sacco, winning trainer: "My brother, Rick Sacco, is our racing manager and he thought that, in his development, that this race would be the right choice for him. My brother was right for once. Usually, I'm right!
"With all that being said, my brother realized how talented he is up to a mile, and they just didn't want to churn him up in the Derby fever. There was serious consideration for the Wood (Memorial) and to try and make it to the Derby, but he's just so talented at this distance. We pinpointed this race first, with the Woody Stephens in mind, so if he comes out of this race well and trains well, that will be our next target.
"He kind of just stays there when he puts a head in front, and that's him, but he had it measured from mid-stretch on. Johnny knows him. He tapped him a little bit, but he knew he had it measured. He's a tough horse and the one word to describe him is 'genuine.'"
Stephen Brunetti of Red Oak Stable, winning co-owner: "Greg was telling me how well he was doing coming into the race. I thought we should have been the favorite coming in. When you have a horse training as well as him and John Velazquez in your corner, you couldn't ask for anything more. I came up here with my family expecting a win, and we got it today. I think my father's looking over us. He's been guiding us for the last several months since he passed away, and I couldn't be more thrilled."
John Velazquez, winning jockey: "We know that (Much Better) is very fast. I was surprised Jose (Ortiz on Mucho) tried to go with him the first eighth of a mile, and then he took back. So, I thought, let me be the one to put a little pressure on the horse in front and it worked out perfect. Once I got to him at the three-sixteenths pole, he put his head in front of him.
"For whatever reason, he was even more focused on what he needed to do today than he was the last time. He ran a good race last time, don't get me wrong. He came from way back and got through the inside. Today, he was more secure about himself. Everything he did today was first class."
Victor Espinoza, jockey of runner-up Much Better: "We broke out of there running and I took the lead nice and comfortable. It was just in the last minute that the other horse went by me. Nevertheless, I think he ran a good race."