Analysis: Maximum Security poised to improve in Cigar Mile

November 12, 2019 11:30am
Analysis: Maximum Security poised to improve in Cigar Mile
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA
Top 3-year-old Maximum Security has already offered some great performances in his eight-race career, including crossing the wire first in the Kentucky Derby. But his best efforts yet could come in the Cigar Mile (G1) on Nov. 7 at Aqueduct and beyond given his excellent comeback win and normal growth as a young horse.

On paper, the ceiling is high for this colt, and he figures to be spotted by connections with that in mind.

Maximum Security won the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) on Nov. 2 while earning a 128 TimeformUS Speed Figure and 106 Beyer Speed Figure. The latter number marks his career-best Beyer, while the former was tied for his best TimeformUS figure. He accomplished those figures off a three-month layoff due to a colic episode.

Compare Maximum Security to probable Cigar Mile competitor to Spun to Run, who won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile with a 127 TimeformUS Speed Figure and 109 Beyer Figure, defeating Omaha Beach in the process. Spun to Run won the Dirt Mile after a full summer and fall campaign.

After Spun to Run ran third against Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational (G1), he won the Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) by a head, ran fifth in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and took the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile by 6 ¾ lengths. In that last prep, he earned a 125 on TimeformUS and 110 Beyer.

It took Spun to Run the entire summer and fall to reach his current level, while Maximum Security had not competed since the Haskell. Maximum Security matched his best TimeformUS figure immediately off the bench, despite trainer Jason Servis not expressing full confidence in him.

His best races in the form cycle could also keep coming after the Cigar Mile, too.  Maximum Security remains a lightly-raced horse at 3. Even though he raced eight times overall already, three of those wins came easily at the maiden claiming and starter optional allowance levels.

Maximum Security crossed the wire first in the grueling Kentucky Derby, but Servis elected to pass on the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This horse has been preserved for the long haul at every opportunity.

Consider that most horses peak in their 4-year-old season, with Gun Runner as the most obvious recent example. He blossomed at the beginning of 2017 -- and that all started with a late season win the Clark Handicap (G1) at 3.

Precocious win-early types and horses who raced too many times are the only exceptions to the rule of peaking as an older horse. Sometimes horses become sick of their job and let the connections know through bad efforts.

With Maximum Security's light schedule and impressive comeback, it is a safer bet to assume he has not soured on racing yet. He could use the Cigar Mile as a stepping stone towards races such as the 
$9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) and $20 million Saudi Cup. If next season is his last, connections might as well.

Also think of how few flaws exist in what we've seen so far from this horse.

Maximum Security already shows high figures and projects to improve further as he gets into campaign mode. If he runs for the entire year in 2020, regular 130+ TimeformUS could become normal.

Maximum Security has no distance limitations at as much as 1 1/4 miles. We know that from the Derby.

Wet dirt is not an issue, as Maximum Security as hit the wire in front multiple times in the slop.

In his Haskell victory, Maximum Security proved he does not need the lead, either. This speedy colt can sit off other horses if drawn outside.

The only time Maximum Security did not cross the wire first, he drew inside the other main speed King for a Day in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth. King for a Day hounded him from the start and never gave him time to catch his breath. After battling in the stretch, Maximum Security faded, and it's notable he stumbled at the start, too.

In the Bold Ruler, Maximum Security ran inside True Timber and Diamond King. But he also got lucky when both Wonderful Light and Knicks Go scratched, as they would have brought other speed to the pace scenario. 

Nevertheless, Maximum Security still won impressively. But if he ever draws inside major speed again, that might be the only scenario to stop him.

With his warmup race in tow, it is exciting to wonder how much further Maximum Security may move forward on speed figures in the Cigar Mile.

Considering most horses improve in their second or third start off the bench, it makes logical sense that Maximum Security will cycle into another career-best effort next month, especially with the 3-year-old male Eclipse Award on the line.


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