SARATOGA SPRINGS – Breaking from the inside gate, with little apparent speed among his eight rivals, Shancelot looked to have a good chance of duplicating his smashing tour-de-force four weeks ago (in the Amsterdam) in Saturday’s $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens (G1). The main concern was whether he’d be able to carry his speed another sixteenth of a mile.
As it turned out, that extra sixteenth proved to be Shancelot’s undoing. Cruising along on a lead he’d held since early in the race, Shancelot was 2½ lengths clear at the eighth pole, with no threat having yet emerged. Suddenly, Mind Control and Rowayton got in gear together, eating up ground as they ranged up behind the leader, with Hog Creek Hustle also a threat further outside.
Approaching the wire, Mind Control spurted ahead of Rowayton and drew alongside Shancelot, who had been shortening stride in the late going. It was between those two and Hog Creek Hustle, as the three flew under the wire together. It was obvious that mere noses separated the first three horses; the only question was, in what order did they finish?
The photo had the answer – Mind Control by a nose over Hog Creek Hustle, with Shancelot a nose back in third and Rowayton another neck back in fourth. Nitrous, Call Paul, Borracho, The Big S and Twelfth Labour also ran.
Mind Control sprinted the seven furlongs on a fast track in a rapid 1:21.43.
“It was a great performance,” said winning trainer Greg Sacco. “His last two trips were so brutal. He’s a gutsy horse. I can’t say enough about him and about my staff and the way they prepared him. [Winning jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] is the best. He saved a little bit and then moved at the right time. He surged with such grit.”
“I really didn’t know if I had it, said Velazquez. “I got beat twice on the wire here, and I didn’t want to jinx myself. Everything went well for him today. He broke good, and I was able to get good position.”
The Jerkens Memorial was Mind Control’s second Grade 1 win, following last year’s Hopeful. The son of Stay Thirsty, who races for Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables, improved to 5-2-1 in 10 starts and has not banked $805,000.