Servis: If Not For Derby DQ, Maximum Security A ‘Slam Dunk For 3-Year-Old Champion’

by | 07.21.2019 | 6:35pm
Luis Saez celebrates as Maximum Security wins the Haskell

On the morning after Maximum Security's triumph in the prestigious Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational, trainer Jason Servis was still processing the range of emotions he's experienced with the Gary and Mary West homebred during a campaign in which the colt was disqualified after crossing the wire first in the controversy-filled Kentucky Derby.

“After the Derby I was over it. Then I was thinking about this after he won yesterday because he could have had three Grade 1 wins and be a slam dunk for three-year-old champion. It's a shame. For a month after the Derby I wasn't even thinking about the Derby. After that win yesterday, I started thinking about it again,” said Servis, who has been working and training horses at Monmouth Park for 40 years and just won his first Haskell. “I've seen and experienced a lot over the years on the racetrack and I've been through the ups and downs and been dealt the good and the bad. After the Derby, nothing bothers me.”

If not for a one-length loss here to fellow Haskell runner King for a Day in the Pegasus Stakes after a bad break from the gate, the Grade 1 Florida Derby winner would be undefeated on the track in seven career outings.

In addition to winning Monmouth's marquee race Saturday, Maximum Security secured a guaranteed spot in the $6 Million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November through the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. There's a long road from here to there, but should he come out on top the Classic against older horses he'd be a shoo-in for Horse of the Year as well as three-year-old champion.

“That's true, but that's not going to be easy. But we did get the 'Win and you're In' guaranteed spot. We've checked off that box,” said Servis.

Included in the possible stops along that road to Santa Anita are a pair of Grade 1 races restricted to sophomores, the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August and the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx in September.

“I plan to ship him up to my barn at Saratoga in the next few days. It's a little cooler up there and sometimes the change in barns and in scenery will maybe get a horse to cycle around and do even better. I'll send him up and see how it plays out. But he has to be doing really good to run in the Travers, which he could. I've had my assistant call me many a time and say, 'Oh my God. This horse in two weeks here is a different horse.' So we'll see what happens,” Servis said. “I don't think a mile-and-a-quarter (Travers distance) will be any problem for him.

During the 2015 campaign for Haskell winner, Triple Crown champion and Breeders' Cup Classic winner American Pharoah, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert candidly admitted that had a horse like him come into his care earlier in his career- and in his life- the results likely would have been different.

“I think this horse, Maximum Security, came around at the right time for me,” said the 62-year-old Servis after giving it some thought. “I'm trying to gear down and he doesn't help matters. I've got another horse who is pretty good, too.”

That would be World of Trouble, a rare Grade 1 winner on both dirt and turf who boasts a four-stakes race winning streak.

“World of Trouble has won his Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” (for the Turf Sprint). He's a running son of a gun. Horses like him don't come around every day either,” Servis said.

As for “Max”, who achieved millionaire status when his Haskell score upped his bankroll to $1,259,600, the colt was enjoying a well-deserved nap in his stall Sunday morning.

“He came out of the race good, really good. He's laying down. He sure earned it,” said his trainer.

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