The 3-year-old championship is slipping away from Maximum Security. Even a victory in the Cigar Mile or Clark Handicap might not be enough to vault him back to the status he enjoyed through most of the late spring and summer.
The defrocked Kentucky Derby winner had the singular boast of being the only member of his generation with two Grade 1 wins—three but for the controversial decision the first Saturday in May.
This has been eradicated over the past two weekends, first by Code of Honor in the Jockey Club Gold Cup then by Omaha Beach in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Besides matching Maximum Security’s two top class wins, they have the “what have you done for me lately?” factor in their column.
Shug McGaughey’s commendable decision to go against his personal inclination and take Code of Honor to the Breeders’ Cup Classic has William Farish’s colt in control of his destiny. He wins the Classic, he wins the title, case closed.
If he doesn’t get the big money, the championship is there for Omaha Beach’s taking. It’s likely he’ll go in either the BC Sprint or Dirt Mile. The mile and a quarter Classic might be asking too much of a colt who has had one sprint in more than six months.
No matter where he shows up on Nov. 2, a victory, coupled with anything less by Code of Honor gives him the championship. Despite his long hiatus, it won’t be a tainted title. Top grade triumphs at six, eight and nine furlongs is an extraordinary feat no matter how they are spaced.
On the other hand, in-the-money finishes by Code of Honor and/or Omaha Beach will not be enough if Maximum Security closes his campaign with another late season Grade 1 win.
There’s even a possibility the championship could come down to the Malibu five days before the end of the year. How exciting would that be?