What we learned: Post draw to Maximum Security's advantage

July 22, 2019 09:40am
What we learned: Post draw to Maximum Security's advantage
Photo: Mark Wyville/EQUI-PHOTO
After getting disqualified in the Kentucky Derby and losing the ungraded Pegasus Stakes, Maximum Security needed a big score to vault him back on top of the 3-year-old division. The colt did just that, picking up a momentum-building win in Saturday's Haskell Invitational (G1).

Mucho Gusto finished 1 ¼ lengths behind in second, while the longshot Spun to Run surprised bettors by finishing third. Everfast closed for fourth, and King for a Day faded to fifth after encountering some trouble.   

Maximum Security’s outside post position played a major role in turning the tables on King for a Day, whose rail draw made the task difficult from the start.

The outside post provided Maximum Security with a few advantages. First, it allowed jockey Luis Saez to watch how the break unfolded in the clear.  

Plus with Maximum Security outside this time, it was less possible a horse could hound him. Maximum Security lost to King for a Day in the Pegasus because the latter enjoyed a clear pressing trip.

Longshot Bethlehem Road attempted to secure the lead initially. But rather than get shuffled back inside, King for a Day worked to hold position and came back on matching terms.

As that happened, Maximum Security kept King for a Day in his sights and moved up in tandem, while Mucho Gusto and Spun to Run chased.

Approaching the far turn, Bethlehem Road quit. King for a Day tried to take command on the inside, but he had no advantage as Maximum Security stayed on even terms the entire way around and held the better position.

When two horses battle alongside each other, the outside horse gets the luxury of keeping the inside horse locked in tight quarters between him and the rail. It is almost always more stressful for the inside horse to duel.

On the far turn, Maximum Security came in slightly as Mucho Gusto began to make a strong bid outside of him, and the quarters subsequently became too tight for King for a Day as he took up and then threw in the towel.

Maximum Security was left to out-run Mucho Gusto, and the two horses drew away from the field. Despite a good fight from Mucho Gusto, Maximum Security kept that rival at bay to pick up his second official Grade 1 win.  

The rail position led to King for a Day using up energy to secure position early, enduring backside pressure from other speed horses and then taking up on the turn. Meanwhile, the outside post left Maximum Security holding all the cards at every point in the race, and he won.

Maximum Security deserves his spot as the division leader, but the friendly post draw undoubtedly helped him, as did the late scratch of Joevia.

Midnight Bisou works hard to capture Molly Pitcher
On the Haskell undercard, Midnight Bisou won the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) in workman-like fashion. She earned a low 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure after getting knocked down for a slow pace. Her unadjusted figure of 115 looks better, but those numbers are well below the 127 and 121 in her last two starts.

The Beyer team gave Midnight Bisou a 92, also significantly below the 103 and 101 she earned in her last two starts.

A slow pace tends to make it hard on figure makers, as they get caught between wanting to reflect the horse’s ability and accuracy.

In any case, the slow pace is seen visually as the first four fillies ran clumped together through 24.79 and 49.06 fractions.  

The pacesetter Coach Rocks tried to slip away in the stretch, but under urging, Midnight Bisou moved through the inside and got the job done.

Without a doubt, Midnight Bisou is several lengths better than Coach Rocks. But in this case, she only won by one length coupled with slower-than-normal figures. Nothing about this win was impressive, neither visually or on paper.

Given the slow pace though and hot weather, Midnight Bisou gets a pass as she heads back to Grade 1 company for Saratoga's Personal Ensign.

A star is born at Del Mar

Forget about Catalina Cruiser. The real star of the Del Mar Saturday card showed up in Race 9, when the 2-year-old filly Pure Xena broke her maiden.

Replays of workouts for first-time starters haven't been available for long. But in today’s age, it is amazing to see even a limited number on XBTV, and three videos featuring Pure Xena gave her away.

I went into detail about the works in my Friday 5 post. What made her workouts impressive? In each of them, Pure Xena always looked like she wanted to go on, and in the June 29 spin she faced a decent horse in Liberalism and still handled her with ease.

Paper handicapping could not illustrate this.    

In the race Saturday, she dueled with the favorite Save the Story, put her away at the top of the stretch, and then romped
by 11 ¼ lengths.   

Perhaps discouraged by the thrashing, Save the Story faded back to fourth.

What is the lesson here? Getting to watch workout videos of 2-year-olds helps immensely in handicapping. At some point, hopefully a way to watch Saratoga babies will follow.

Besides that, Pure Xena is one exciting filly to watch.


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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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