Shifman: Maximum Security leads NTRA Top 10 newcomers

July 23, 2019 11:40am
Shifman: Maximum Security leads NTRA Top 10 newcomers
Photo: Mark Wyville/EQUI-PHOTO

Three horses built up their resumes enough to warrant a return to my ballot for this week’s NTRA Top 10 Thoroughbred Poll ranking the 10 best in training.

So, let’s take a look at Maximum Security’s victory in the Haskell Invitational (G1), Catalina Cruiser’s second win of the year in the San Diego Handicap (G2), and the second consecutive Grade 1 score for Guarana in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga.

With his convincing win in the
Haskell, Maximum Security returned to the top of the high profile 3-year-old division and thus jumped back into my Top 10 in the No. 5 position. Trainer Jason Servis had a confident appearance when he walked into the paddock at Monmouth Park for the $1 million race, and the son of New Year's Day delivered an impressive performance.

“The way he had been training up to the race, I had every right to be confident,” Servis said afterward.

The Gary and Mary West homebred broke quickly from the gate but showed a new dimension when jockey Luis Saez allowed him to settle off the pace while Bethlehem Road and King for a Day were sent to the lead. Saez secured the lead in the final turn and was then able to hold off a serious challenge from Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto.

In the end, the numbers point to a strong Haskell victory on an extraordinarily hot July day at the Jersey Shore. The winner extended his lead nearing the wire and tripped the timer at 1:47.56, marking the fastest Haskell final time since 2011. Maximum Security earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102, his fifth straight triple-digit number.

Hours before the Haskell, Catalina Cruiser
recorded an easy gate-to-wire victory in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar to give him his second Grade 2 victory of the year. His 2019 campaign began at Belmont Park last month in the True North, so now he has wins on both coasts, and around one and two turns.

Trainer John Sadler did not need to have the son of Union Rags at 100% to defend last year's win this mile and a sixteenth race. With the Pacific Classic (G1) at 1 1/4 miles next, will Catalina Cruiser wind up back in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, or could connections eye the Classic? So far, the 5-year-old by Union Rags hasn't gone past 9 1/2 furlongs.

I gave the Chad Brown-trained undefeated filly
Guarana the No. 10 spot on my ballot after she backed up her victory in the Acorn with her third career win in the Coaching Club American Oaks. On a steamy Sunday afternoon, the daughter of Ghostzapper kept her record perfect while running to the top of her respective division.

The winning margin was only one length, and there was an anxious moment when she veered a bit in the lane. Still, as a division leader, I felt Guarana should be represented on my poll.

This coming weekend, races that could impact the Top 10 include a meeting of War of Will and Tacitus in the the
Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga, while my No. 1 horse, Mitole, is expected to race again on the undercard in the Vanderbilt (G1).

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Bricks and Mortar (32)

 1. Mitole

 2. Mitole (7)

 2. Bricks and Mortar

 3. Midnight Bisou (1)

 3. Midnight Bisou

 4. McKinzie (1)

 4. Sistercharlie

 5. World of Trouble

 5. Maximum Security

 6. Sistercharlie

 6. World of Trouble

 7. Maximum Security

 7. McKinzie

 8. Seeking the Soul

 8. Catalina Cruiser

 9. Thunder Snow

 9. Mr. Money

 10. Vino Rosso

 10. Guarana


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