Maximum Security may be best known for his historic disqualification in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, but last year's champion 3-year-old colt made his 2020 debut a victorious one in Saturday's $20 million Saudi Cup. The son of New Year's Day had to run down frontrunner Mucho Gusto and fend off the late run from Midnight Bisou up the rail, but Maximum Security dug in gamely to win by three-quarters of a length on the wire. Ridden by Luis Saez for trainer Jason Servis, the Gary and Mary West homebred colt ran in the silks of his new co-owner, Coolmore.
Mucho Gusto was the quickest out of the starting gate for Irad Ortiz, Jr., out-sprinting North America and Capezzano to make the lead in the early going. Maximum Security moved up on the outside for Saez, and Ortiz allowed Mucho Gusto to move out a bit in the backstretch of the one-turn, nine furlong contest and keep Maximum Security well off the rail.
Meanwhile, American runner Tacitus was along the inside in mid-pack while Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith had Midnight Bisou at the rear of the 14-horse field in the early going.
Maximum Security chased Mucho Gusto through the far turn, and Ortiz carried him out a bit more. Turning toward the long stretch run, Saez made the decision to swing to Mucho Gusto's inside.
Even with clear racing room, it took most of the stretch for Maximum Security to run down Mucho Gusto, not passing the frontrunner until the 100-meter mark. Smith had taken the inside route with Midnight Bisou, and she emerged at the rail to challenge Maximum Security in the shadow of the wire.
Despite the mare's determined strides, Maximum Security was able to find one last burst to put him across the finish in front. Midnight Bisou was hardly disgraced in second, passing all but one of the field, and Benbatl ran well late to nip Mucho Gusto for third. Tacitus finished fifth, and Japan's Gold Dream was sixth. The remaining order of finish was: Chrysoberyl, Mjjack, Magic Wand, Gronkowski, McKinzie,Great Scot, North America and Capezzano. The final time for 1800 meters, or nine furlongs, on dirt was 1:50.58.
Of Midnight Bisou, Smith said: “She ran so well and I am so proud of her. She ran awesome. I did everything but we didn't come first, but she won, do you know what I am saying? Amazing weekend.”
Bred in Kentucky by co-owners Gary and Mary West, Maximum Security is out of the Anasheed mare Lil Indy, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Flat Out. The colt debuted for a $16,000 maiden claiming price at Gulfstream in December of 2018, winning impressively, and went on to win his next two starts and then the G1 Florida Derby.
Maximum Security famously crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby only to be disqualified for interference, but won the G1 Haskell and, following a bout of colic, the G1 Cigar Mile to secure the year-end championship award. The colt has officially won eight of his 10 career starts, only crossing the wire second in the listed Pegasus Stakes last summer at Monmouth Park.
“Really, that horse has got a lot of heart,” Servis said. “It's got to be some vindication. He ran hard, I thought he was creased up in behind. He was really doing good. I am a bit superstitious and didn't want to over-talk him but the last three days, when he breezed the mile and one (1800m), he just ran and came off the track there was just a presence about him and I tried to stay calm, but I was really feeling good the last few days. Seven in the Florida Derby, seven in the Kentucky Derby, seven in the Haskell, he drew the seven in the Pennsylvania Derby and that is when he ended up in the clinic, and then when he drew the seven for this race…I was a little apprehensive about sending Garrett (son and work-rider) up to the stage because I was thinking if he draws 13 or 14 he will feel bad. When he pulled out the seven I texted (part-owner) Mary West and she is like 'you are kidding, right?' It's a good story. I have a great team with Coolmore and the Wests and they have great managers. We will have a conference call tomorrow morning and take it from there.”
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) February 29, 2020
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 © 2020 Paulick Report.