The Wests and trainer Jason Servis had a decision to make and now they’ve done so.
And it has the added benefit of being the correct one, a path to the Pegasus World Cup Invitational that makes the most sense; the eight furlong, one turn Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, DEC 7.
The choice was made after first testing the surface where the turf meets the bay. The connections shipped the Derby first from Belmont Park to Aqueduct to test the winterized main track surface.
So now, Churchill Downs’ longer, two-turn Grade 1 Clark, is off the table in favor of the sand and loam of New York owing to a successful workout experiment Sunday morning.
Maximum Security put in a good breeze in South Ozone Park, essentially a mile and an eighth once-around-the-park in which the protem divisional leader picked up the pace at the end, clocking his final three furlongs in :40.80 under exercise rider Jose Biallatoro.
For Servis who long-gallops his horses into peak condition, giving them very slowly timed workouts in the interim. Forty and change is akin to a bullet drill from this barn, and that point is underscored by Servis’ post drill comment:
“I was thinking [Biallatoro] to just say he went good,” said the trainer. “But he said ‘Man, Jay, he’s better on this track than he was at Belmont’.”
Good news for the connections and New York fans who would like to get another glimpse at the impressive winner of the 7-furlong Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park, after the colt was forced to skip the Pennsylvania Derby following a colic episode.
The Cigar Mile will be Maximum Security’s stepping stone to the G1 Pegasus World Cup at the end of January which makes for an excellent progression; seven furlongs to a mile to a mile and an either. The spacing between races is excellent as well. Maximum Security has been at his best when fresh.
The Bold Ruler, while “only” a Grade 3 at furlongs was most impressive. After a go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was out of consideration, it was time to recycle and what he did in the Bold Ruler was not an easy feat.
Saddled with the rail out of the chute, older horses put pressure on his throughout and still he separated himself from the group at head-stretch and slowly increased his advantage nearing the wire while giving his elders actual and not scale-weights.
It will be interesting to see what the Cigar assignment will be when he meets more formidable opposition. As mentioned, Maximum Security has finished first in seven of eight starts, including the G1 Florida Derby and Haskell, with his Derby first sandwiched in between.