January 31, 2023

Mind Control goes out a winner in the Cigar Mile; Go for Wand stakes win 77 for Ortiz

Mind Control wins the Cigar Mile (Photo by Joe Labozzetta/Coglianese Photos)

Mind Control capped a stellar career with a gutsy head victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Cigar Mile H. (G1) at Aqueduct under John Velazquez.

Rating in second behind pace-setting longshot Outlier most of the way, Mind Control battled down the stretch between rivals Get Her Number, who took the lead on the outside approaching the eighth pole, and the three-year-old White Abarrio on the inside.

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

Bred in Kentucky by Red Oak Stable, which co-owns the six-year-old with Madaket Stable, Mind Control returned $8.30 after completing the course in 1:35.53 over a sloppy track. Get Her Number finished second by a half-length over White Abarrio, who had two lengths on fellow three-year-old 7-10 favorite Zandon. Outlier and Double Crown completed the order of finish.

“If you like horse racing, you’ve got to love this horse. He’s cool,” said Todd Pletcher, who took over training duties for Mind Control from Greg Sacco in the summer of 2021. “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.”

The Cigar Mile was the 11th stakes win of Mind Control’s career and his third Grade 1. His previous top-level wins came in the 2019 Hopeful (G1) and 2020 H. Allen Jerkens (G1), both at Saratoga.

Other stakes wins by Mind Control include the Jerome S. and Bay Shore (G3) in 2019; the Toboggan (G3), Tom Fool H. (G3), John A. Nerud (G2), and Parx Dirt Mile in 2021; and the Salvator Mile (G3) and Parx Dirt Mile earlier this year. He placed in eight other stakes, including the Carter H. (G1) and Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1).

Stud plans will be confirmed later for Mind Control, who retires with a mark of 29-12-3-6, $2,185,834. By Stay Thirsty, he was produced by the stakes-winning Feel That Fire, by Lightnin N Thunder.

Go For Wand (G3)

Irad Ortiz Jr. set a new record for most stakes wins in a single season by a jockey when guiding Dr B to a wire-to-wire victory in the $200,000 Go for Wand (G3) for fillies and mares.

Skipping through the slop, Dr B opened up through the stretch to win the one-mile test by 4 1/4 lengths over 2-1 favoring Bank Sting. Betsy Blue finished 3 3/4 lengths behind in third.

“The speed has been playing well the past couple of days,” said Ortiz, who broke the previous record of 76 stakes wins by a jockey set by the late Garrett Gomez in 2007. “She had been sprinting before and I didn’t want to take anything away. I just let her be herself and she was nice and relaxed. When I asked her, she was there for me.”

Setting a fast pace of :22.66, :45.05, and 1:09.58, Dr B finished up one mile in 1:35.18 and paid $8.30 for owner Cash is King and LC Racing. The four-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map is stabled at Parx with trainer Butch Reid.

The Go for Wand was the first stakes win for Dr B, who had placed in three earlier stakes, including the Oct. 3 Roamin Rachel S. at Parx and the Oct. 29 Pumpkin Pie S. at Aqueduct.

“She’s been stepping up and moving forward and we’re thinking of the Barbara Fritchie ([G3] at Laurel in February) as a possibility,” Reid said.

Bred in Kentucky by Eico Ventures, Dr B was produced by the Grade 2-placed Boleyn, a daughter of Proud Citizen who has also reared the stakes-winning Stand Up Comic and Hi Holiday.