11/26/2015 6:06PM

Control Stake all the way in Thanksgiving Handicap


Two starts ago at Keeneland, Control Stake was in a $50,000 claimer, but on Thursday at Fair Grounds, he was in the winner’s circle after leading from start to finish in the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap.

Setting a hot pace on a main track carrying speed horses throughout the card, Control Stake never was seriously threatened, stopping the timer in 1:09.83 for six furlongs after running his opening quarter-mile in 21.59 seconds and a half in 44.62. Officer Griffin, who pressed the leader from second, held off the heavily favored Clearly Now for second.

Control Stake is owned by Maggi Moss and trained by Tom Amoss, connections who captured two Thanksgiving Handicaps with the excellent sprinter Delaunay. Control Stake has more to do to be considered anything like Delaunay’s equal, but he is still a 3-year-old, and he beat older horses Thursday in his first try against elders other than the Keeneland claiming race. Control Stake carried just 113 pounds, nine fewer than highweight Clearly Now.

“It was Maggi’s idea to put him in this race today,” said Amoss, a New Orleans native who won two races on what traditionally was opening day of the Fair Grounds meet. “He’s a quick horse, but like a lot of quick horses, when he’s challenged, he tends to fold his tent.”

No challenge ever came Thursday, with Colby Hernandez breaking Control Stake on top and controlling the race from there.

“He felt great,” Hernandez said. “He went quick, but he still relaxed for me.”

Clearly Now, second to last for much of the trip, tried to rally down the middle of the track but failed to change leads and probably was racing against a bias. All six of the card’s dirt races were won by the early leader or a pace-presser, several at long odds. Control Stake himself was a 5-1 shot and paid $12.40 to win. Control Stake, by Discreetly Mine, won for the sixth time in 12 starts. He’s finished worse than third only once.