The first-place finisher in the 2019 Kentucky Derby was favored at 1-9 on the tote board in Sunday's $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, but Maximum Security could not deliver and failed to cross the wire first for the first time in his career.
Instead, Red Oak Stable homebred King For A Day ran down the favorite in the stretch to cross the wire a length in front, completing 1 1/16 miles over Monmouth's fast main track in 1:42.59. Ridden by Joe Bravo for trainer Todd Pletcher, the 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo is now a perfect two-for-two in 2019, adding to a resume that already included a win in the listed Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico. King For A Day was the second choice in the wagering at 5-1.
“I liked how his paper looked,” said Bravo. “The horse has been coming into his own. I texted Todd Pletcher this week and he called me back in two seconds to tell me how high he was on this horse. He was in full control the whole race. Maximum Security stumbled the first couple of jumps and I am sure that hurt him a little bit and he was playing catch-up the rest of the time – even though he was in front until we got to him late. I just tried to keep my horse relaxed and ride my horse. He was good when he needed to be.”
Maximum Security stumbled leaving the starting gate, but was quick into stride under Luis Saez and jumped up to take the lead. King For A Day hounded the leader throughout the Pegasus, traveling smoothly just a half-length behind through fractions of :23.56 and :46.82. Saez let Maximum Security extend his lead to a full length at the half-mile pole, alleviating a bit of pressure, but King For A Day had more left in the tank.
Rounding into the stretch, King For A Day was once again prodding Maximum Security. Bravo bellied down on the Pletcher trainee and the pair inched into Maximum Security's lead with every stride, finally bursting away from his rival at the sixteenth pole. King For A Day cruised under the wire a length ahead of Maximum Security, while Direct Order checked in third.
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, King For A Day is out of the unraced French Deputy mare Ubetwereven, making him a half-brother to three other six-figure earners. The colt won at second asking as a juvenile, then took some time away from the races after a fourth-place effort in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. King For A Day came back in a big way as a 3-year-old to win the Sir Barton by 2 1/2 lengths, and has now defeated Maximum Security.
“It stinks getting beat but that's horse racing,” said Maximum Security's trainer Jason Servis. “I think (the stumble) cost me the race, really. I got beat, what – half a length? Tough day. I think his next race will be better. I needed to get this out of the way. I was glad to get this out of the way even though he got beat by a nice horse. I think his next race will be better. I hope. But I think it will be. It was a tough week. He was feeling good this morning. I sent him out. He was jumping and kicking. I think the stumble hurt us a lot.”
“He hasn't run for a while so he was a little desperate in the gate,” Saez explained of the favorite. “He wanted to break so he broke so fast he stumbled. He was all right after that but I sensed he was getting a little tired in the final half mile. When we came to the half-mile pole I asked for a little more but he got a little tired when I asked him to keep going. In the end he was a little tired. I'm not disappointed. Definitely not. He will be ok. I think he needed the race. This is horse racing. Anything can happen. He's a real good horse. That hasn't changed. I think the next time he will be ok.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.