With past victories in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1), Hopeful (G1), Bay Shore (G3), and Jerome S., Mind Control has proven one of the more effective one-turn performers of his generation.
On Saturday, the 4-year-old returns from a layoff dating to late August when he steps out of his own age group for the first time in the $150,000 Toboggan (G3) at Aqueduct over 7 furlongs.
Aside from a troubled trip in the Woody Stephens (G1), Mind Control enjoyed a stellar sophomore campaign. He peaked on Aug. 24, beating Hog Creek Hustle and Shancelot in the final strides of the Jerkens at Saratoga. He was freshened afterwards in Ocala, Florida.
“The goal was the Jerkens in 2019 but he had been in continuous training from May 2018 without having ever left the backside of a racetrack,” explained Red Oak Stable racing manager Rick Sacco. “This is a real good start-off race. It’s the right distance and he likes the track.”
American Anthem, a multiple graded stakes winner when stabled with Bob Baffert, makes his debut for new trainer Danny Gargan in the Toboggan. Cutting back from a nine-furlong stakes win at Laurel is Sunny Ridge, a past winner of the Withers (G3) and Salvator Mile (G3).
Still Having Fun, the 2018 Woody Stephens (G2) winner, and Arch Cat were cross-entered in both the Toboggan and Saturday’s 6 1/2-furlong Fire Plug S. at Laurel. The latter, second in his Dec. 7 comeback from a seven-month break and after being gelded, is likely to ship to Aqueduct for the longer Toboggan.
Nicodemus, who relished off tracks last season in races like the Westchester (G3), will look to rebound from a dull ninth-place effort in the tougher Cigar Mile (G1).