Control Group calls all the shots in Alex M. Robb

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Michael Dubb and David Simon’s former claim Control Group (Posse) lived up to his name at Aqueduct Sunday, controlling every step of the $100,000 Alex M. Robb for older New York-breds. He took charge shortly after the bell and proceeded to a resounding 4-length victory.

Like the other year-end New York-bred stakes races this winter, the Robb, which is typically NYRA’s New Year’s Eve feature, took some time to schedule. Attracting six entries Sunday, the race lost Papa Shot, 3-1 second choice on the morning line, to a steward’s scratch due to an ongoing quarantine of one of Linda Rice’s barns after an EHV-1 positive on a different horse.

Last seen winning the Grade 3 Discovery for sophomores on November 25, 4-year-old Control Group made the victory look easy that day under Joel Rosario as the main speed of the field and earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort. Before the Robb, however, pilot Kendrick Carmouche reported that he and trainer Rudy Rodriguez discussed the possibility that fellow-speedster Wake Up in Malibu might be minded to challenge for the early lead.

Said Carmouche, “Rudy said, ‘Warm him up good and do what you think is best. If the other horse wants to go, he can sit, but he prefers to be in front.’”

Rodriguez also shared the pre-race instructions. “Coming into the race, me and Kendrick [Carmouche] talked about if [Wake Up Malibu] really wanted the lead, we were going to let him go and take it from there, but when he broke so good, and was in control, he runs his best races that way.”

Control Group, who had won four of his last five starts, three at the Robb distance of 1 1/8 miles around two turns, went off as the 2-5 favorite and highweight of 123, spotting his rivals two to eight pounds.

Control Group established command at the rail by the time the field entered the first turn. The bay colt was pursued through the far turn, in close order a half-length back, by Wake Up in Malibu two-wide, Can You Diggit three-wide and Extinct Charm down inside. Testosterstone trailed after a big gap. Fractions for the first six furlongs were not at all testing: 25.65, 50.16, 1:14.18.

At the head of the stretch Control Group finally shook off the persistent Wake Up in Malibu and continued to the wire, a 4-length winner in a final time of 1:52.19.

Behind him, Broman homebred Can You Diggit overhauled a fading Wake Up in Malibu and ran on to get second. Another 1 1/2 lengths back Extinct Charm closed from fourth for the show. Wrapping up the group were a closing Testosterstone and pace-presser Wake Up in Malibu. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“He broke good and I just set enough fractions going easy that I could speed up from the three-eighths pole [to] home. Pretty much cruise control, you know,” said Carmouche.

The pilot added, “The only time the pressure came was at the half-mile pole and the race was pretty much set from there with the fractions I set earlier. He was pretty settled. You can do whatever you want with him. Horses like that, you just sit on them and let them do their job.”

Rodriguez said, “It was a very good performance. He loves going two turns. The couple weeks we’ve had off waiting for the race, it looked like it benefited him. I knew he was only going to get stronger coming off the race he ran last time. We were giving a lot of weight to the other horses in the field, but we were confident in his ability and it showed today.”

Bred by Colts Neck Stable and Alan Goldberg and foaled at Vinery New York at Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag, Control Group is 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 newly-turned 2-year old filly by Courageous Cat named Raging Cat and a 2017 filly by Giant Surprise.

Control Group has earned $381,570, with six wins, three seconds and three thirds from 14 starts. A graduate of the 2014 Fasig-Tipton New York fall mixed sale as a weanling when purchased by MRC Equine for $27,000, the colt 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). Trainer Gary Contessa shrewdly picked up the colt for the bargain price of $15,000 at the 2016 OBS open horses of racing age sale.

One Response to “Control Group calls all the shots in Alex M. Robb”

  1. MICHAEL KAY says:

    Congrats, on Control Group’s recent Stakes victories! Mr.Dubb your vast ownership of race horses is a credit to your commitment to the Sport of Kings! Dave, my first cousin, I pray that your winning streak since partnering with M. Dubb helps you get through the physical maladies you have bravely withstood! My best, MK

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