Analysis: Maximum Security took next step in Cigar Mile victory

December 08, 2019 11:26am
Analysis: Maximum Security took next step in Cigar Mile victory
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA
As often pointed out here, the inside speed in a race usually takes the worst of a contested lead. And by lining up inside of Spun to Run in Saturday's Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct, Maximum Security seemed probable to absorb quite a bit of early pressure.

Given his natural talents, Maximum Security still held the best chance to win. But that one obstacle left room for doubt, as dueling between the rail and a Breeders' Cup winner, then having to hold off closers, created a difficult task.

Plus, seen previously over the summer, Maximum Security came up short in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park in such a scenario.

This time, however, Maximum Security handled the task beautifully. As expected, he secured the lead early on, with Spun to Run on his flank.

It probably helped that Maximum Security stayed a path or two off the rail, giving him some breathing room as Spun to Run kept up the pressure.

The two of them went through fractions of 22.80 and 46.17, which are moderate to fast. Aqueduct fractions tend to slow down in the winter.

On the turn, it appeared Maximum Security and Spun to Run might give a show in the stretch run as they began to separate from Looking at Bikinis and a tired Bal Harbour. Meanwhile, True Timber started to rally outside.

Maximum Security asserted his dominance in the stretch though and drew clear of Spun to Run in a hand ride from Luis Saez. He won by 3 ½ lengths and earned a 131 TimeformUS Speed Figure, his first number above 130.

Spun to Run held second while drifting out. He picked up another 127 on TimeformUS, the same figure from his Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile victory.

While Maximum Security may have been aided by a speed bias, Spun to Run stayed close enough that any help didn't matter. Until the stretch, Spun to Run never fell more than a half a length behind, giving him every opportunity.

Clearly, Maximum Security took the next step forward as he now eyes a 4-year-old campaign. As long as this colt stays healthy, there is no reason he cannot take the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and continue on his dominance in other traditional Grade 1 races on dirt.

Finally, the older horse division has a major star again.

Shotski may not be a one-hit wonder

Shotski captured the Remsen Stakes (G2) on the Cigar Mile undercard with a similar running style, as he secured the lead and took outside pressure. But the horse applying heat was the unproven longshot Prince James.

Regardless, Shotski did well to lead the field through 24.26 and 50.08 fractions as Prince James chased him. On the turn, Shotski put Prince James away and opened up. For a moment, it looked like Shotski would dominate.

Ajaaweed began to roll in midstretch and made the final margin close. At the end, Shotski ended up prevailing only by half a length.

With that said, it is notable Chase Tracker finished 4 ¼ lengths back in third, while Informative completed the superfecta 10 ½ lengths behind in fourth. Spaced-out margins generally indicate a quality race.

As for a final time check, Shotski completed the race in 1:54.24. One race earlier, Lake Avenue took the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) for 2-year-old fillies in 1:54.55.

Shotski did not run remarkably faster than Lake Avenue, but he did run faster than what could be a top Kentucky Oaks contender down the line. The speed figures back it up, as he earned a 113 on TimeformUS, while Lake Avenue picked up a 107 for her visually impressive win.

In other words, despite a lesser-known trainer and longer odds on Saturday, do not discount Shotski on the Derby trail moving forward after this 1 1/8-mile win.

Comparing Thousand Words, Bast at Los Alamitos

Analyzing Thousand Words is difficult because he only faced three rivals  in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), but worked hard to get the win over a classy counterpart.

He both had to hold off a proven stakes horse in Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Anneau d'Or and handle wet dirt for the first time.

Thousand Words got the job done with heavy encouragement in 1:43.19, faster than Bast's winning time of 1:43.36 later in the card in the Starlet Stakes (G1). 

But there are questions to answer. How will Thousand Words fare against a larger field? If he needs an all-out effort to defeat Anneau d'Or, how will he manage once the slower-progressing colts move forward?

As for Bast, she redeemed herself. Back in September, she regressed in the Chandelier Stakes (G1), only winning by a neck over Comical. Bast bounced back by running a good third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after chasing a hot pace and won yesterday's Starlet in a hard-fought victory over Donna Veloce.

Both Thousand Words and Bast got the job done on the day. Given the field sizes and track conditions, it's difficult to know what that means as they turn 3.


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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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