Maximum Security maintains Grade 1 options for Pegasus prep

November 09, 2019 11:58am
Maximum Security maintains Grade 1 options for Pegasus prep
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

Two weeks since his victory in the Oct. 26 Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park, Maximum Security maintains two next-race options that are expected to lead him into the richest race of his career, the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

Ben Glass, racing manager for owners Gary and Mary West, said they, along with Jason Servis, are still in discussions on where go next.

Maximum Security could ship out to the scene of his controversial disqualification from the Kentucky Derby and run in Churchill Downs’ Nov. 29 Clark (G1). The traditional day-after-Thanksgiving feature runs at 1 1/8 miles.

Or, the son of New Year’s Day could make the short ship from Belmont to Aqueduct for the Dec. 7 Cigar Mile (G1). The one-turn race goes a furlong farther than Maximum Security’s comeback in the Bold Ruler.

“I have no idea what Mr. West and Jason are going to decide on,” Glass said, “but it’ll be one of those two, and hopefully it will be a good prep for the Pegasus.”

Maximum Security is back to the track at Belmont, where he made an emphatic return from a life-threatening case of colic. In September, the colt scratched from the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) but did not end up requiring surgery for what was termed a colon nephrosplenic entrapment.

Under jockey Luis Saez, Maximum Security set the Bold Ruler fractions against elders and won in measured fashion, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Tale of Silence. Third-place True Timber and Prince Lucky in fourth could also use the race as a lead in to the Cigar Mile.

“It surprised me,” Glass said. “Jason was talking about finishing second or third — getting a good race. He said he wasn’t back yet. That colic took quite a bit out of him.”

Maximum Security zipped through opening fractions of 22.90 and 45.22, then finished up 7/8 of a mile in 1:20.76.

“I wish there would have been a horse pushing him,” Glass said. “He would have broken the track record.”

That mark is held by Clearly Now, who won the Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes (G3) in 1:19.96 on July 5, 2014.

The Bold Ruler added a third graded stakes victory to Maximum Security’s resume this season along with the Florida Derby (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1). That puts him in the thick of the conversation about Eclipse Award honors for top 3-year-old male with 
Code of Honor and possibly Omaha Beach.

Glass guessed how Maximum Security is perceived by voters comes down to the way they view the Derby disqualification.

“Right now there’s no doubt in my mind that he should be the champion,” Glass said. “I know he got disqualified, but he beat them all soundly in the Derby, and I don’t think they should take that out of the equation, because obviously we believe the stewards made a bad call.”

Another victory before the end of the season would bolster Maximum Security, whose chief rival, Code of Honor, has won four graded events this season: the Fountain of Youth (G2), Dwyer (G3), Travers Stakes (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

The last of those wins, of course, came via another DQ. If a voter considers the Kentucky Derby a win for Maximum Security, does that in turn make the Gold Cup a defeat for Code of Honor? The son of Noble Mission isn’t expected to run again in 2019 after missing the board in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, not taking to the deep dirt in Arcadia, Calif.

Omaha Beach, meanwhile, missed much of the season due to his own health setback. He’s a candidate for the Dec. 26 Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita Park with victories in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) on his resume in addition to a second in last weekend’s the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.


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