ELMONT, N.Y. – Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable’s Mind Control was a determined winner of Saturday’s Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The 6-year-old Stay Thirsty bay found another gear along the rail after setting the pace and held off a late charge from multiple graded stakes winner Hot Rod Charlie to earn the victory.
“We’re just pleased and proud of the horse. He’s a competitor,” said Rick Sacco, racing manager for Red Oak Stable. “He’s a homebred and we own the whole family. He’s been such a fun horse to be around. It’s an incredible feeling. It was a big win yesterday. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed it.”
Mind Control broke sharply from post 1 under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez and quickly established the lead in the one-mile affair for horses 3-years-old and upward. Velazquez asked him for more down the backstretch as Hot Rod Charlie pressed to his outside before briefly taking the advantage at the stretch call. But Mind Control would not be denied and dug in valiantly to retake the lead and fend off his foe by a head in a final time of 1:35.79.
“We knew he would show speed and we knew from the one hole that we had to go,” said Sacco. “He broke clean and going into the first turn, we had a comfortable lead. Down the backside, Johnny asked him for a little more just for a little separation of a couple lengths. At the half-mile pole, we knew it was our race to lose because when he gets engaged, he’s going to fight back. He’s not an easy horse to go by.”
Mind Control is the fourth foal out of the Lightnin N Thunder mare Feel That Fire, a half-sister to Red Oak’s homebred graded stakes-placed and New York sire King for a Day. Both King for a Day and Feel That Fire are out of the unraced French Deputy mare Ubetwereven, who has been a foundational broodmare for Red Oak and also produced stakes-winner Ima Jersey Girl.
Mind Control, initially trained by Gregg Sacco, has won graded events in each year of racing, including the Grade 1 Hopeful as a juvenile at Saratoga. He captured the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct and Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens at the Spa as a sophomore; and at 4-years-old at the Big A, he won the Grade 3 Toboggan and Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap.
Last year, after shifting to Pletcher’s barn, Mind Control added the Grade 2 John A. Nerud to his ledger at Belmont. Six of Mind Control’s 10 career wins have come by a winning margin of less than one length.
“This is a great line of mares that we’re proud of and we’re building this family with a bunch of runners,” Sacco said. “To see Mind Control win graded stakes every year; he’s a hickory horse who doesn’t lose these dog fights. I’m proud of the whole operation – the farm team, the breeding team, our trainers. Everyone involved.”
Sacco said it is likely Mind Control to make his next start at The Spa.
“We’re enjoying this win and we thought this was a good comeback win,” Sacco said. “We’ll send him up to Saratoga and we haven’t really decided on which race is next, but it will be something at Saratoga.”
Feel That Fire has also produced a Mineshaft half-sister to Mind Control named Goddess of Fire, who was a close runner-up in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks this spring for Pletcher before finishing a distant 11th in the Kentucky Oaks.
“We went to the Fair Grounds and lost a heartbreaker,” Sacco said. “The Oaks just wasn’t our day. She’ll run next in the [Grade 3] Monmouth Oaks [on July 31] and she’s up at Saratoga getting a freshening.”
With Feel That Fire now producing two graded stakes performers, Sacco said Mind Control and Goddess of Fire are the kinds of horses any breeding operation would dream of owning.
“It’s just gratifying. All of our horses, especially Mind Control, are special because we own the mares, we breed them, we break them,” said Sacco. “This horse has his own paddock and padded stall at Red Oak Farm in Ocala. Every year when he’s done racing, we let him tell us when he’s ready to go back to the track. He’s a very sound and honest horse. It’s really a testament to our breeding program.”
Feel That Fire delivered an Uncle Mo filly this year and was bred back to Uncle Mo for 2023.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Mind Control #1 (Inside) with John Velazquez up battles to the wire with Hot Rod Charlie #3 and Mike Smith to win the $150,000 Grade III Salvator Mile. Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO