December 11, 2023

Control Group shakes loose in Discovery

Control Group was in complete control around one lap of the Aqueduct oval (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Control Group overtook True Timber on the clubhouse turn and never looked back in recording a decisive victory Saturday in the $200,000 Discovery (G3) at Aqueduct.

The 5-2 favorite in a field of six three-year-olds, Control Group was never left uncontested to set fractions of :24.65, :48.52, and 1:13.29. He remained well clear entering the stretch and had plenty left to win the nine-furlong test by three lengths over Senior Investment.

Owned by Michael Dubb and David Simon, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, and ridden by Joel Rosario, Control Group finished up in 1:52.83 over a fast track and paid $7.40.

Senior Investment, who beat West Coast by a head in the Lexington (G3) last April, was 8 1/4 lengths clear of Bonus Points. Can You Diggit, Spieth, and True Timber rounded out the order of finish.

This was the first career stakes win for Control Group, who was claimed by his present connections in January for $62,500. He has since won five of eight starts, and preceded this score with a second-place effort in the $300,000 Empire Classic for New York-breds. His career mark now stands at 13-5-3-3, $321,570.

“We were thinking about running him in the Claiming Crown, but we didn’t want to ruin him, you’ve got the New York-bred race coming up at the end of the year [the $100,000 Alex M. Robb on December 31],” Rodriguez said. “That was the plan, even if we didn’t run here, he still would run good fresh, and I thank Michael Dubb for the opportunity, and everything worked out good.”

Bred by Colts Neck Stable and Alan Goldberg, Control Group was originally a $15,000 OBS juvenile purchase. He’s by Posse and out of the Victory Gallop mare We Kept Her. This female family has also yielded Grade 2 winner Bye Bye Bernie and, further back, 1970s sprint star Honorable Miss.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. swept the supporting grass stakes on the card with Rainbow Heir in the $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship and with Penjade in the $150,000 Forever Together.

Owned by New Farm and trained by Jason Servis, Rainbow Heir rallied from fifth to win the inaugural running of the six-furlong Turf Sprint by three parts of a length in a time of 1:08.60 on firm ground. Dubini, a 59-1 outsider, finished second by a half-length over Conquest Panthera. White Flag, the 5-2 favorite, ran seventh.

The seven-year-old Rainbow Heir was a two-time stakes winner at Monmouth Park this summer and had narrowly missed winning the $125,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint and the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup. Rainbow Heir is scheduled to enter stud at Ocala Stud early next year.

Penjade won a thrilling three-way photo by a nose over 22-1 longshot Not Taken and 8-5 favorite My Impression in the Winter Memories. Owned by Amerman Racing and trained by Chad Brown, the four-year-old French-bred daughter of Air Chief Marshall ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.60.

Thrice stakes-placed in France, Penjade earned her first added-money score after a recent fourth-place effort in the Athenia (G3).

“She ran great,” Brown said. “It was really close. I am proud of her the way she has developed this year. She has really improved a lot and Irad really deserves a lot of credit for her development. He has figured out how to ride this horse and it took me a little while to figure out what her best distances would be and exactly her running style. I wasn’t positive about it, and Irad made the decision.”