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Mind Control Bows Out With Determined Cigar Mile Score

The son of Stay Thirsty gamely defeated Get Her Number in his career finale.

Mind Control (red cap) wins the Cigar Mile over Get Her Number (black cap) at Aqueduct Racetrack

Mind Control (red cap) wins the Cigar Mile over Get Her Number (black cap) at Aqueduct Racetrack

Coglianese Photos

Mind Control  left a lasting impression Dec. 3 with a determined score in the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The 6-year-old son of Stay Thirsty  eked out the win over Get Her Number and White Abarrio in a photo finish that put his sheer determination and heart on display in the final start of his career.

With Get Her Number making a bid from third on the outside and White Abarrio slipping through on the rail as the field turned for home, Mind Control battled between the two under John Velazquez and gamely defeated Get Her Number by a head, with White Abarrio a half-length behind in third. The final time was 1:35.53 on a sloppy (sealed) track.

Winner of the 2018 Hopeful Stakes (G1) as a juvenile, Mind Control came back to win the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) at 3. While not successful at the top level in 2020-21, he nevertheless won graded stakes during those seasons, then capped his resume with a third grade 1 Saturday. In doing so, he followed in the hoofprints of his sire, who concluded his career with a narrow Cigar Mile score in 2012.

Todd Pletcher trained Repole Stable's Stay Thirsty, and also conditions Mind Control for breeder Red Oak Stable, which co-owns the three-time grade 1 winner with Madaket Stable.

EHALT: Mind Control's Long Career Culminates in Cigar Mile

"If you like horse racing, you've got to love this horse," Pletcher said. "He's cool. He's done it consistently year after year at multiple distances. He's a great horse to be able to train. He's remarkably consistent and shows up every morning… He's the type of horse that if you get into a battle with him, he's going to fight."

Mind Control wins the 2022 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Mind Control's connections enjoy the trophy presentation for the Cigar Mile

Entered fresh off a Sept. 24 victory via disqualification in the listed Parx Dirt Mile Stakes, Mind Control broke well from the outermost post 6 and tracked second as 58-1 shot Outlier led through splits of :23.26 and :46.55.

"The first sixteenth of a mile, he broke good…but he came out of the bridle," Velazquez said. "So, I passed the chute and kind of put him into the bridle, and he got comfortable. I felt much better the way he was going towards the turn, and when (Get Her Number) came to him, he got competitive. So then I felt like he was going to fight." 

The battle developed off the turn for home after three quarters in 1:11.23. The pacesetter faded, Get Her Number poked a head in front,  White Abarrio joined the mix—and Mind Control summoned his inner brawler.

"When (Get Her Number) put his head in front of me and didn't (completely) pass me, I was like, 'This is going to be a fight here,'" Velazquez remarked. "And sure enough, I (urged) left-handed on him, he responded and put his head in front, and it was a really good fight to the wire."

Sent off as the 5-2 second choice, Mind Control returned $8.30 to win. Favored Zandon, Outlier, and Double Crown completed the order of finish. O Besos was scratched due to confirmed instances of the contagious equine herpesvirus, specifically a strain called EHV-1, at his home track of Churchill Downs. The New York Racing Association has closed its gates to Churchill shippers until further notice.

Mind Control was bred in Kentucky out of the stakes-winning Lightnin N Thunder mare Feel That Fire, who has produced five winners from seven starters. He is the lone graded stakes winner for his dam, who also produced graded stakes-placed Goddess of Fire (by Mineshaft ), third in the Alabama Stakes (G1) this year for Red Oak and Pletcher and twice grade 2-placed as a juvenile. Goddess of Fire has six stakes placings in total.

The dam produced an Uncle Mo  filly this year and was reported covered by Curlin  and Uncle Mo for 2023.

Mind Control was originally trained by Gregg Sacco, the brother of Red Oak racing manager Rick Sacco, who handled him through the two grade 1 wins and seven victories in 20 starts before he was transferred to Pletcher's barn in the summer of 2021. The bay horse retires with a 12-3-6 record from 29 starts, with earnings of $2,185,834 and eight graded stakes to his credit. Along with his grade 1 trio, he won the 2019 Bay Shore Stakes (G3), the 2020 Toboggan Stakes (G3) and Tom Fool Handicap (G3), the 2021 John A. Nerud Stakes (G2), and 2022 Salvatore Mile Stakes (G3). He also won listed events in the 2019 Jerome Stakes and the 2021 Parx Dirt Mile to go along with his 2022 win in the race. 

After riding Mind Control to his fairytale ending, Velazquez reflected on his mount's legacy.

"I've been around this horse for five years, and he's been a really decent horse and shows up to the big dances with really tough horses— and he does it all the time," Velazquez said. "I'm a little sad to see him go because he's one of the horses that kind of keeps me in the game…looking forward to these kinds of races."

Mind Control wins the 2022 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozzetta
John Velazquez returns to the winner's circle aboard Mind Control

Video: Cigar Mile H. Presented by NYRA Bets (G1)