Photo Credit: Chelsea Durand
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Gregg Sacco said Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan winner Mind Control emerged in good order from his triumphant 2020 debut on a snowy Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned by Steve Brunetti’s Red Oak Stable in partnership with Sol Kumin and Jason Monteleone’s Madaket Stable, the 4-year-old son of Stay Thirsty tracked just off of graded stakes winner Still Having Fun and took clear command in mid-stretch before graded stakes winners Nicodemus and Sunny Ridge made up ground in the final furlong resulting in a three-way photo. Under the instruction of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Mind Control had just enough to fend off his two foes.
“He came out of it great, cooled out great, ate up and was bright-eyed and happy this morning,” Sacco said. “We had the pacesetter measured the whole way. He was really waiting on them, but once they got to him, he kicked on and the gallop out was tremendous. He gave us some anxious moments, but he’s a fighter. Johnny knows him well and did a great job.”
The Toboggan was Mind Control’s first race since another narrow stakes victory in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens on August 24 at Saratoga. He struck Grade 1 gold at the Spa during his 2-year-old campaign when taking the Grade 1 Hopeful at 10-1.
Plans call for a start in the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap at the Big A on April 4, with the possibility of a start in between.
“Maybe one race in between, but for now we’ll savor this win and we’ll discuss the next start with my brother [Red Oak Stable racing manager Rick Sacco], Steven Brunetti and Sol Kumin and figure it out,” Sacco said.
In other news from the Sacco barn, stakes winner and last year’s third-place Grade 1 Belmont Stakes finisher Joevia made his first start since said effort a winning one in a Friday allowance event going 6 ½ furlongs over the Aqueduct main track.
Sacco had not thought past Friday’s race, but said the son of third-crop sire Shanghai Bobby could target the $125,000 Stymie on March 7 at the Big A, a one-mile event for older horses.
“You never know how they’ll come off the layoff but he worked great over at Belmont and his works indicated that he’d run well,” said Sacco. “He didn’t have to win, it was a set up race for longer distances. We were over the moon with his performance.”
Mind Control and Joevia are stabled next to each other at Sacco’s barn on the Belmont Park backstretch.
“They’re buddies,” Sacco said of the stakes-winning stablemates. “They’re all business. You can pet them for a few seconds and then they’ll want to bite you. They got more aggressive as they got older.”
A Kentucky homebred, Mind Control is out of the Lightnin N Thunder broodmare Feel That Fire, who is a half-sister to stakes winner King for a Day.
Joevia, owned by Jeff and Michael Fazio, is out of the unraced War Front broodmare Peace Process and was purchased for $32,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company’s 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in April 2018.