For much of 2022, this column has focused on members of the classic generation. The nature of the Thoroughbred industry means the best of these tend to have fleeting careers, but this week we'll consider a more enduring individual in Mind Control. Making his 26th start June 18, Mind Control turned back the challenge of one of the leaders of last year's classic crop, the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) victor Hot Rod Charlie, to claim the Salvator Mile Stakes (G3). In doing so, he achieved the rare feat of recording a graded-stakes victory every year from 2 to 6.
It would consume too much space to review Mind Control's career in detail, but to note the highlights, he was successful in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) on his third outing at 2, added the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1), Bay Shore Stakes (G3) and Jerome Stakes at 3; the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) and Toboggan Stakes (G3) at 4; the John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) and Parx Dirt Mile Stakes at 5; and now the Salvator Mile Stakes (G3) at 6. His record also boasts a second and a third in the Carter Handicap (G1) and a third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1). Interestingly, despite his high-level consistency over the years, Mind Control never broke the benchmark 100 Beyer Speed Figure until running a 104 in the Parx Dirt Mile in his last start at 5, and he matched that figure in the Salvator Mile, so his juvenile grade 1 victory notwithstanding, he appears to have actually improved with age.
Mind Control's sire, Stay Thirsty , along with To Honor and Serve, was one of a pair of standout colts from the first crop of A.P. Indy's Champion 3-Year-Old son, Bernardini. Second in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (G1) at 2, Stay Thirsty established himself as one of the leaders of his division at 3, when he captured the Travers Stakes (G1), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), and Gotham Stakes (G3), and took second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1). At 4, Stay Thirsty took his time to find his best form, but on his fourth outing he came within a head of denying Flat Out a second straight victory in the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G1). Having looked best suited by a distance of ground throughout the majority of his career, on his final start Stay Thirsty rewrote the script by running down the fleet Groupie Doll to take the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) by a nose.
Retired to Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for the 2013 breeding season, Stay Thirsty was represented by five stakes winners, including the smart sprinter/miler Coal Front , in his first crop, but failed to get a single stakes winner from 76 foals in his second crop. Mind Control and four other stakes winners came along in his third crop, but by then it was too little, too late, and from 2018 on, Stay Thirsty has stood at Lovacres Ranch in Warner Springs, Calif. Overall, he has sired 16 stakes winners from six Northern Hemisphere crops of 3-year-olds and up, with Coal Front and Mind Control being joined as graded winners by the Nashua Stakes (G3) scorer Pickin' Time. Stay Thirsty also has shuttled to Argentina and Chile, and has four stakes winners from his Southern Hemisphere crops, including Golden Leaf, successful in the Clasico Derby Nacional (G1) in Chile.
Mind Control's dam, Feel That Fire, is also dam of last year's Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) runner-up, Goddess of Fire, who is by another A.P. Indy line stallion in Mineshaft . A Florida-bred daughter of the Storm Cat horse Lightnin n Thunder, Feel That Fire won three of eight starts, gaining bold black-type with a victory in the Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth Park. She is a sister to the Jersey Girl Handicap scorer Ima Jersey Girl and half-sister to King for a Day, who is most noted for upsetting Champion 3-Year-Old Colt Maximum Security in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes.
Both Mind Control's grandam, Ubetwereven (by French Deputy), and third dam, Raysor Lake (by Private Account), were unraced, but Raysor Lake did produce a stakes winner in the Northern Afleet daughter Miss Fleetfoot. Things become more impressive under the fifth and sixth dam, Clef d'Argent—who took the Test Stakes (G1) and produced the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) victress Nine Keys—and Maid of France—successful in the Indian Creek Stakes, and dam of Man o' War Stakes (G1) winner French Colonial.
Marche Lorraine, the dam of Maid of France, was imported to the U.S. by Lazy F Ranch (of Forego fame). She was a good stakes winner in France, and was a great-granddaughter of Sauge Pourpree, heroine of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches/French One Thousand Guineas in 1908. Marche Lorraine figures as ancestress of nearly 70 stakes winners. They include Champion Sprinter Whitmore; Midway Lady, who not only won an English One Thousand Guineas (G1) and Oaks (G1) but produced Vodaphone Epsom Oaks (G1) winner Eswarah; and Swiss Yodeler, successful in the Hollywood Futurity (G1) and a prolific sire of speed in California. In looking at the family, it's fascinating to note the part that a trio of sons of Ribot—Hoist the Flag, and the brothers Graustark and His Majesty—have played in its success. Midway Lady was by Alleged (by Hoist the Flag) out of a mare by His Majesty; Whitmore is by Pleasantly Perfect, a grandson of His Majesty; and Swiss Yodeler's dam, the multiple-stakes producing French Flag, is by Hoist the Flag. From the branch that produced Mind Control, his fifth dam, the grade 2-winning Clef d'Argent, is by Key to the Mint, a son of Graustark; the previously mentioned grade 1 winners Nine Keys and French Colonial are by Forty Niner (dam by Hoist the Flag) and Tom Rolfe (by Hoist the Flag), and 2021 grade 2 scorer Fluffy Socks, who goes back to Maid of France, is by Slumber , a grandson of Danehill (dam by His Majesty).
Looking at the pedigree of Mind Control, we find the pattern continued, albeit somewhat distantly, as Mind Control's broodmare sire, Lightnin N Thunder, is out of a mare by the Hoist the Flag horse Stalwart. Mind Control is one of four stakes winners for Stay Thirsty out of Storm Cat line mares, a pattern that gives inbreeding (here 3x4) to Stay Thirsty's broodmare sire, Storm Bird. Mind Control also has a link to Stay Thirsty's other grade 1 winner, Golden Leaf, as Golden Leaf is out of a mare by Woodman, and Woodman's dam, Playmate, is a sister to Numbered Account, dam of Private Account, sire of the third dam of Stay Thirsty.