Control Group dominates Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Discovery Handicap

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

NYRA/Robert Mauhar

By Sarah Mace

On January 20, 2017, 3-year-old Control Group (Posse) was claimed by Rudy Rodriguez for Michael Dubb and David Simon out of state-bred route run on the Aqueduct inner oval for $62,500.

Dangled for a tag twice more, the bay colt ultimately signaled on October 21 that he was claiming material no more with a solid second-place finish to the accomplished Twisted Tom in the Empire Classic.

At Aqueduct Saturday, Control Group cemented the deal with a dominating wire-to-wire victory in the co-featured Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs.

Rodriguez did, however, explain that Control Group’s presence in the Discovery was more a matter of accident than design. “They said they needed horses,” said Rodriguez. “They only had four. [The racing office] was looking for another New York-bred, Broken Engagement. I said I don’t know about Broken Engagement because I don’t think he wants to go that far, but Control Group, he loves two turns, and that’s what we did.”

Bet down to 5-2 favoritism over five well-meant and well-matched rivals, and partnered for the first time with Joel Rosario, Control Group used his natural speed to clear the field from his outside post and grab a spot at the rail by the time the group entered the clubhouse turn. The other main speed horse, True Timber, chased two lengths back through moderate opening splits of 24.05 and 48.52.

By the far turn, as six furlongs ticked by in 1:13.29, Control Group had extended his lead to four lengths. Cruising solo to the finish line after leading by as much as five lengths in the stretch, the bay made his 3-length victory look easy in a final time of 1:52.83.

Senior Investment closed to take second, while Bonus Points finished third more than eight lengths back, a neck ahead of New York-bred Can You Diggit, who chased throughout. Wrapping up the field were Spieth and True Timber. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Jockey Rosario said, “I was just trying to stay where I was early and improve my position as it went. He handled everything fine. It looked like it was very easy for him.”

NYRA/ Chelsea Durand

The pilot based his tactics to a combination of homework and instinct. “Rudy [Rodriguez] didn’t tell me much. We thought maybe [Spieth] or [True Timber], [or] someone like that was going to go. It looked OK and then we broke, and I had to make a decision to go or take back so I just decided to keep him going. In his other races, it looked like he liked to be up there, so I just let him do whatever he liked to do.”

Rodriguez said, “I told Joel [Rosario] to warm him up good, and see if we can clear the horses, he loves the two turns, that’s the key. When I saw 24 [seconds for the opening quarter-mile] I was very comfortable, 48, he was nice and controlled, and Joel looked very, very controlled, and at the three-eighth pole, I thought we looked very, very good. The farther they are, the better it is.”

Plan A for Control Group’s connections was to enter Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park on December 2 and have a fresh horse for the $100,000 Alex M. Robb for state-breds on December 31. Now Rodriguez, Dubb and Simon have a graded win in the bank, and will have an even fresher horse for the Robb.

Bred by Colts Neck Stable and Alan Goldberg and foaled at Vinery New York at Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag, Control Group is the third foal, and one of two winners out of We Kept Her, an unraced Kentucky-bred daughter of Victory Gallop. The mare’s other winner We Did is a full brother to Control Group and six-figure earner. The mare has a yearling filly by Courageous Cat and a 2017 filly by Giant Surprise.

Control Group, a consistent runner, who has won five of 13 starts with three seconds and three thirds and earned $321,570, was never, as it happens, valued at his true worth at public auction. A graduate of the 2014 Fasig-Tipton New York fall mixed sale, he went to MRC Equine for $27,000. Then he RNA’d when offered as a yearling at the Saratoga New York-bred sale ($49,000) and again at two at the Midlantic spring sale of 2-year-olds ($19,000). Gary Contessa shrewdly picked him up for the bargain price of $15,000 at the 2016 OBS open horses of racing age sale.


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