Will the real Maximum Security stand up? Did he need his recent return that badly? Can he be 2020 Horse of the Year?
Yes, yes and yes, but only if Tiz the Law doesn’t win the Triple Crown. Even in 2020, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes–whatever the order, whatever the distance–matter.
His most recent start was his first in 147 days and his first for Bob Baffert. He didn’t lean on his for three reasons: The four-year-old bay came to him from the Jason Servis barn; further explanation superfluous.
Second, how would this horse react returning from an enervating run in Saudi Arabia and how would the colt respond going from five-eighths of a mile in 1:04 to 59-flat?
And of greatest significance, he wasn’t being pointed to the Grade 2 San Diego, he was pointed to Saturday’s Grade 1 Pacific Classic at the Kentucky Derby distance of 1-1/4 miles.
We project he is going to move forward big-time: He has the benefit of a race over the track; he sheds three pounds and totes equal weights at 124 pounds, and re-riding Abel Cedillo knows him now. But wait, there’s more.
In our view, Maximum Security (1-1) was asked for energy in his pre-San Diego workouts but went dully dull through stretch in all of them. Subsequently, Baffert has put him on the fence.
After the San Diego, which he won by a desperate nose, Maximum Security returned to the work tab nine days later; five furlongs in 1:01. Six days after that, it was three-quarters in 1:12 4/5.
One week after he worked 7 furlongs in 1:25 2/5 around two turns, full of energy throughout. That’s 18 furlongs in 22 days and the track has tightened up recently which should be more to his liking.
The major threat is Higher Power (3-1), John Sadler’s defending Pacific Classic winner with Flavien Prat. His San Diego was strictly for practice, a dull but useful effort. He was second previously behind Improbable who freaked in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Chad Brown Has Never Won the Fourstardave, Really?
Really, and he’s had 10 chances to do so. Today he has four of the nine starters in the Grade 1 mile that has drawn a group worthy of the grade; favorite Raging Bull (5-2), Uni (3-1), a crack miler race mare, and co-third choice, Without Parole (4-1).
The uncoupled four-pack is completed by price shot Valid Point (12-1), who Brown insists is better than rated.
Defending Fourstardave champion, Uni’s divisional rival Got Stormy (8-1), has not recaptured her 2019 form but hasn’t caught her preferred firm surface, which she will get today. The problem of getting back to herself here is the competition.
The two favorites are each coming in off a loss. Following a tour de force taking Santa Anita’s G1 Kilroe Mile, he was a grinding third in Keeneland’s G1 Makers Mark, lacking his usual late pop. But he loves the Spa, as his (3) 2-1-0 slate indicates.
Uni is making her second start this year. On June 27, she was a one-paced third given unfavorable dynamics in the G1 Just A Game at Belmont Park. Of her 10 lifetime wins, seven came at today’s trip. She worked a sharp five furlongs for her return.
Check back tomorrow for our graded stakes plays of the day from Saratoga and Del Mar