The long awaited rematch between Maximum Security and War of Will serves as the backdrop for Saturday's running of the $1 million G1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. The two principle players in the notorious bumping incident that resulted in the first winner of the Kentucky Derby to ever be disqualified will face each other for the first time since that historic afternoon in Louisville, hoping to settle a score that has festered now for over four months.
The two headliners top a field of seven 3-year-olds that includes the red hot Mr. Money, whose camp is hoping to spoil the party.
For a horse that is now a multiple Grade 1 winner, it seems almost inconceivable that he could have been offered for just $16,000 in his career debut, but that is indeed how it all started for Gary and Mary West's Maximum Security. Making his career debut in a maiden claimer last December at Gulfstream, the New Year's Day colt roared away to win by nearly 10 lengths and has never looked back. He twice dominated optional claiming foes before his first big test in the G1 Florida Derby on March 30th. Leading every step, he came home a three and a half length winner and went to Churchill Downs as a major player in the Kentucky Derby.
Following the now famous incident at the top of the stretch, for 22 tense minutes, he stood as the Kentucky Derby winner. The joy in the Maximum Security camp would be dashed, however, as the Churchill stewards decided to disqualify him for interference and place him 17th. He now comes into the race Saturday off his second Grace 1 win on the year, winning the Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 20th for trainer Jason Servis.
Gary Barber's War of Will was, of course, the colt most directly affected by the actions of Maximum Security in the Derby, and for the first time in four months, their paths will again “collide.” War of Will came into the Derby with a terrific spring resume, having captured both the G3 LeComte and the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds before problems at the start resulted in a sub-par performance in the Louisiana Derby. He came back from the Derby with a perfect trip victory under Tyler Gaffalione in the Preakness, making the War Front colt a classic winner for trainer Mark Casse. While the mile and a half Belmont was probably beyond his scope, he also did not run well in his subsequent race, the G2 Jim Dandy on July 27th at Saratoga, running a well beaten fifth behind Tax and Tacitus. Working bullets at Saratoga, he hopes to recapture his spring form Saturday afternoon.
The late blooming colt that may stand in their way is Mr. Money. Out of the Bret Calhoun barn and sporting the colors of Allied Racing Stable, the Goldencents colt comes into the race off four consecutive graded wins, all by daylight. His streak started on Derby Day, winning the G3 Pat Day Mile on the undercard by better than five lengths. He's followed that with wins in the G3 Matt Winn (by 6 ½), the G3 Indiana Derby (by 2 ½) and the G3 West Virginia Derby (by 6). As a two year-old his connections thought enough of him to send him to the G1 Breeders Cup Juvenile directly off his maiden win, where he performed more than admirably, running a very respectable fourth at 41-1.
The full field for the 1 1/8-mile contest, in post position order, is as follows:
- Math Wizard – Edgard Zayas – Saffie Joseph, Jr.
- Improbable – Mike Smith – Bob Baffert
- Shanghai Superfly – Frankie Pennington – Marcos Zulueta
- War of Will – Tyler Gaffalione – Mark Casse
- Spun to Run – Paco Lopez – Juan Carlos Guerrero
- Mr. Money – Gabriel Saez – Bret Calhoun
- Maximum Security – Luis Saez – Jason Servis
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