Mind Control Pointing Toward Cigar Mile; Sisterson May Run Pair

Multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control, trained by Gregg Sacco for Steve Brunetti’s Red Oak Stable and Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, posted a five-eighths work in 1:01.85 Sunday on the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up on December 5 at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y.

The Cigar Mile Day card also includes a pair of Grade 2, $150,000 nine-furlong events for juveniles in the Remsen and its filly counterpart, the Demoiselle, as well as the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile.

Sacco said Mind Control, a 4-year-old son of 2012 Cigar Mile champ Stay Thirsty, is likely to enter the Cigar Mile, although the six-furlong Grade 3, $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on November 29 at the Big A remains under consideration.

“He worked well. He went five-eighths in 1:01 and change and out in 1:15. The track was a little heavy this morning,” said Sacco. “I’ll talk it over with my brother [racing manager Rick Sacco], Steve Brunetti and Sol Kumin, but it looks like we’re going to point him to the Cigar Mile.”

The talented colt captured the seven-furlong Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga Race Course as a juvenile and added the seven-furlong Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens to his ledger last August at the Spa.

A four-time winner at Aqueduct, Mind Control captured the one-mile Jerome here in his first sophomore start and ran second to Haikal at one mile in the 2019 Grade 3 Gotham ahead of a score in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Bay Shore. He continued his good form at Ozone Park earlier this year with wins in the Grade 3 Toboggan in January and Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap in March.

After running off-the-board on a sloppy track in the Grade 1 Runhappy Carter Handicap in June at Belmont, Mind Control returned to form with a strong third in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga. His chances in the Grade 1 Forego presented by America’s Best Racing at Saratoga were hampered by a sloppy track, resulting in an eighth-place finish.

“He’s been a bit of a victim of circumstance this year,” said Sacco. “He started out the year great, but caught the slop in the Carter and then he ran well on the fast track in the Vanderbilt before catching slop again in the Forego. He really can’t hold up in the slop.”

Mind Control found class relief in the Mr. Prospector on September 12 at Monmouth Park but was checked down the backstretch en route to a third-place finish. Last out, in the Lafayette at Keeneland, Mind Control was in range to strike when a horse fell in front of him at the quarter pole causing Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez to take up his mount.

Sacco said he is hopeful Mind Control can return to winning form at Aqueduct against an expected field that includes top contenders Performer and Firenze Fire.

“He’s won at a mile early in his 3-year-old career in the Jerome and he was a good second in the Gotham,” said Sacco. “We always thought between seven-eighths and a mile was his best distance. Three-quarters is a little short for him even though he’s won at that distance and ran a dynamite race in the Vanderbilt at Saratoga.

“He loves Aqueduct and he came out of the Kentucky race well,” added Sacco. “We know it’s going to be a tough heat. Performer is a hell of a horse and there’s a few other really nice horses in there.”

Sisterson may start pair in Cigar
Trainer Jack Sisterson saddled his first Grade 1-winner this summer with Vexatious in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga and said he is hoping to double up when he sends out Calumet Farm’s True Timber and Bon Raison in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

“We’ll definitely send True Timber and there’s a good chance we’ll send Bon Raison for the Cigar Mile as well,” said Sisterson.

True Timber, a 6-year-old son of Mineshaft, will be making his third Cigar Mile appearance following a close second to Patternrecognition in 2018 and a third a year ago in an event won by Maximum Security.

A veteran of 28 career starts, True Timber boasts a record of 28-4-5-9 with purse earnings in excess of $1 million. He joined the Sisterson barn earlier this season following the retirement of former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

In four starts with Sisterson, True Timber has posted two thirds and a closing second last out in the Lafayette at Keeneland.

“He’s a lovely horse and the way he tries on the day he really deserves to win a big race. He’s definitely got the talent to do it,” said Sisterson. “He’s very workmanlike in the morning, so I’ve learned to let him just put his feet where he wants to put them and keep him happy.”

His lone off-the-board effort for Sisterson was a fourth in the Grade 2 Vosburgh Invitational in September at Belmont when leaving from the inside post in a race won by Cigar Mile-rival Firenze Fire.

“He didn’t like being stuck down on the rail at Belmont two races back [in the Vosburgh], and that’s just him. Put a line through that race and he’s run some competitive races with us,” said Sisterson. “He seems to be peaking into his best possible performance to date with us. He has one more breeze here next week and if all goes to plan, I definitely expect him to run as good in there as he has done in the past. He’s probably looking forward to getting up there.”

Bon Raison, a 5-year-old Raison d’Etat horse, is a Calumet homebred, who returned to the fold in July when claimed for $80,000 from an optional-claiming sprint at Saratoga.

A veteran of 44 career starts, Bon Raison owns a record of 11-4-7 with purse earnings of $674,534. He captured the 6 ½-furlong Peeping Tom at Aqueduct as part of a marathon 21-race campaign last year that also included a score in the six-furlong Tale of the Cat at Saratoga. Earlier this year, Bon Raison picked up graded black type when third to Mind Control in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at the Big A.

“He’s a homebred and has a special place in Calumet’s heart,” said Sisterson. “If you really diagnose his form and numbers, he’s got some big numbers to go back to. He’s run quite a few times and at different distances and he was able to withstand all of that. It goes to show the will to run he has.”

In his second start for Sisterson, Bon Raison tried the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs in September but failed to fire. He came back and won a hard-fought nose score in an optional-claiming sprint on October 16 on the Keeneland main track.

“We took a shot at Kentucky Downs and some horses take to that course and some don’t,” said Sisterson. “He came out of that race fine and trained forwardly into the nice little allowance race at Keeneland which he somehow ended up winning. He just got up. It just goes to show he still has the will to run.”

Last out, Bon Raison was a non-threatening tenth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland under Adam Beschizza. He exited that effort to work a half-mile in 49.40 Saturday on the Keeneland dirt.

“If you look closely at the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Adam Beschizza got off him and said, ‘Jack, you have to watch the replay, I didn’t even touch him with the whip. I had nowhere to run,’” said Sisterson. “So, he didn’t have a tough race coming out of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and he worked great yesterday.”

Sisterson said the Calumet pair have complimentary running styles, with True Timber likely to be prominently placed.

“One will be forwardly placed and one will be coming from off the pace and it wouldn’t shock me if either of them won it in two weeks’ time,” said Sisterson. “He [True Timber] has a naturally high cruising speed and if you can get him into a good rhythm, I think he can carry that over a distance of ground.”

Sisterson said Kendrick Carmouche will have the call aboard True Timber, while Jorge Vargas, Jr. will pilot Bon Raison.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Aqueduct Racetrack, and the best way to bet every race of the 18-day fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

Early look at the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile on December 5, 2020
Probable: Bon Raison (Jack Sisterson), Firenze Fire (Kelly Breen), King Guillermo (Juan Carolos Avila), Mr. Buff (John Kimmel), Mind Control (Gregg Sacco), Performer (Shug McGaughey), True Timber (Jack Sisterson)

Possible: Majestic Dunhill (George Weaver)

Published at Sun, 22 Nov 2020 20:24:34 +0000

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