Making his graded stakes debut for owners Michael Dubb and David Simon, Control Group went straight to the lead and never relinquished it to win the $200,000 Discovery Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Nov. 25 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Breaking alertly from post 6 with Joel Rosario aboard, the New York-bred son of Posse led the field of six through moderate fractions of :24.05 for the opening quarter-mile and :48.52 for the half. Calmly holding his position in front, Control Group continued to distance himself from the field as he completed a mile in 1:39.12.
Extending away to comfortably secure the victory by three lengths at the wire, the Rudy Rodriguez trainee finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.83 on a fast track.
"I was just trying to stay where I was early and improve my position as it went," Rosario said. "He handled everything fine. It looked like it was very easy for him."
Sent off as the 5-2 favorite, Control Group returned $7.40 to win. The victory increased his earnings to $321,570.
"I told Joel to warm him up good, and see if we can clear the horses. He loves the two turns. That's the key," Rodriguez said. "When I saw :24, I was very comfortable. He was nice and controlled, and Joel looked very, very controlled. And at the three-eighths pole, I thought we looked very, very good. The farther they are, the better it is."
Control Group was claimed by his current connections for $62,500 in January. He had five starts under his girth for trainer Gary Contessa—a fourth, three thirds, and a second. He broke his maiden next time out for Rodriguez, strung together three wins in allowance and claiming company this summer, and came into the Discovery off a runner-up effort to Twisted Tom in the Oct. 21 Empire Classic Handicap.
"We were thinking about running him in the Claiming Crown, but we didn't want to ruin him. You've got the New York-bred race coming up at the end of the year (the $100,000 Alex M. Robb Dec. 31)," Rodriguez. said "That was the plan. Even if we didn't run here, he still would run good fresh."
Control Group was bred by Colts Neck Stable and Alan Goldberg, out of the Victory Gallop mare We Kept Her. He sold to Contessa, as agent, for $15,000 from Deans List at the Ocala Breeders' Sales' June 2016 2-year-olds in training and horses of racing age sale.