Pegasus World Cup next for ‘truly special’ Maximum Security

December 08, 2019 01:05pm
Pegasus World Cup next for ‘truly special’ Maximum Security
Photo: Robert Mauhar/NYRA

After Maximum Security pulled clear of Spun to Run to prevail by 3 1/2 lengths in Saturday’s Cigar Mile (G1), connections celebrated not just that he’d won another race, but basked in the bigger picture of how this 3-year-old colt conducts business.

Spun to Run had pressed Maximum Security through some of the fastest fractions of the afternoon over a slow Aqueduct track. But even after they opened up in 46.17 seconds for the half mile — Spun to Run just to his outside, and Maximum Security down on the rail — the likely Eclipse Award champion male 3-year-old turned back his competition again.

“He seems to love a good fight,” said owner Gary West, who campaigns Maximum Security with his wife, Mary. “When a horse looks him in the eye and he gets right next to a horse, that’s when he really digs in and does his best running.”

In capping a 6-for-8 season, Maximum Security also earned likely favoritism in his next target race, the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park, where the son of New Year’s Day won his first four career races.

“If he comes out of this race well and everything, that’s our goal, is to be at the Pegasus,” West said.

“It would almost be hard not to go,” trainer Jason Servis added.

The Pegasus runs at 1 1/8 miles, the same distance over which Maximum Security won the Florida Derby (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1) earlier in 2019. He also hit the wire first going as long as 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby and earned his step up to stakes with an 18 1/4-length starter optional claiming score last February going 7/8 of a mile.

Tribulations included both a controversial disqualification from the Kentucky Derby and a case of colic in September that forced Maximum Security to scratch from the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and bypass the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He returned in Belmont Park’s Bold Ruler (G3), nearly setting a track record off the bench.

“He’s truly special,” Servis said. “If you watch the Bold Ruler, when he turned for home, he switches leads — you almost can’t see it.”

Servis continued to say Saturday that “it’s a shame what happened” in the Kentucky Derby. One start after that, in Monmouth Park’s Pegasus Stakes, the colt stumbled leaving the gate and eventually gave into King for a Day.

“I still think he wins that day if he gets away, opens up three (lengths) and they have to work to get to me,” Servis said. “And then the Derby, other than that, he’s undefeated. I know if’s a big word, but he could very easily have gone undefeated.”

Maximum Security came back to put King for a Day away in the Haskell the next month.

Having stopped the clock in 1:36.46 going one turn in the Cigar Mile, Maximum Security received a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 111.

"It doesn't make up for everything, but it's nice to win a Grade 1 race anywhere,” West said, “and the Cigar Mile is a pretty nice race to win.”

Servis said Maximum Security will join his Florida string soon to train toward the Pegasus.

"We'll probably give him two or three days and if the weather looks good temperature-wise," he said, "then we'll probably ship Tuesday."

Matt Shifman contributed to this report.

2020 Pegasus World Cup (G1)


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