Shifman: Maximum Security loss shakes up my NTRA rankings

Shifman: Maximum Security loss shakes up my NTRA rankings
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Over the weekend, the revolving door to the winner’s circle at the major races continued to turn when Maximum Security was upset in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park and Gift Box was defeated in the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs.

It has not been easy voting in the NTRA Top 10 Thoroughbred poll this year. There has been no consistent leadership in the spotlight divisions for the older males and the 3-year-olds all year, and those are where most Horse of the Year winners run.

Maximum Security, the disqualified Kentucky Derby winner, went to the post at odds of 1-20 in his first start since the first Saturday in May. He was the clear-cut leader of the final 3-year-old poll that came as the Triple Crown series concluded.

The Jason Servis trainee stumbled a bit leaving the starting gate and then quickly faced a challenge on the front end from the eventual winner King for a Day. Rider Luis Saez was working hard around the final turn on Maximum Security, but it was the Todd Pletcher trainee that was best coming down the stretch.

“He hasn’t run for a while, so he was a little desperate in the gate. He wanted to break so he broke so fast he stumbled,” said Saez. “He was all right after that, but I sensed he was getting a little tired. I’m not disappointed. Definitely not. He will be okay. I think he needed the race. This is horse racing. Anything can happen. He’s a real good horse. That hasn’t changed. I think the next time he will be okay.”

Maximum Security was my top 3-year-old and held a spot in my overall Top 10 ballot for the NTRA rankings. But with his defeat, there is no longer an obvious division leader. For the first time this year, there is no sophomore in my Top 10.

At Churchill Downs, Gift Box was the 2-1 favorite in the Stephen Foster (G2) as he shipped from California to lead a field of 12. He was never a serious contender in the race as Seeking the Soul won a battle down the stretch with Quip and Tom’s d’Etat.

As a result, Seeking the Soul joined my Top 10 for the first time this year at the No. 6 position.

The poor performance of Gift Box did not flatter McKinzie, who was beaten by the John Sadler runner earlier in the year. Thus, McKinzie, who was also second in the Met Mile (G1), is now ranked seventh.

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Bricks and Mortar (30)

 1. Mitole

 2. Mitole (6)

 2. Bricks and Mortar

 3. Midnight Bisou (2)

 3. Midnight Bisou

 4. McKinzie

 4. World of Trouble

 5. World of Trouble

 5. Catholic Boy

 6. Catholic Boy

 6. Seeking the Soul

 7. Seeking the Soul

 7. McKinzie

 8. Rushing Fall

 8. Vino Rosso

 9. Vino Rosso

 9. Rushing Fall

 10. Thunder Snow

 10. Vasilika

Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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