DEL MAR, Calif. – As an example of the strength and fitness of Maximum Security, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert pointed out that the $12 million-plus (in earnings) horse was not breathing deeply as he returned to pose in front of the infield board following his victory Saturday in the Grade I, $500,000 TVG Pacific Classic.
This after running 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.24, leading Gate to Wire and putting an easy three lengths between himself and runner-up Sharp Samurai at the finish.
Trackside today, Baffert related how the 4-year-old son of New Year’s Day practically dragged handlers back to the barn Saturday evening and was fine in the morning light. Baffert also said that as gratifying and emotional as the TVG Pacific Classic win was – it brought tears to the eyes of owners Gary and Mary West – it was not the most impressive of Maximum Security’s two-race Del Mar tour de force.
“The most impressive race was the San Diego (Handicap, July 25),” Baffert said. “He was inside, got stopped, had to overcome trouble and a slow track and still won.”
Comparatively, the Pacific Classic, Maximum Security’s second start for Baffert and second with Abel Cedillo in the irons, was a day at the beach. From an outside, five of six, post Maximum Security broke alertly and Cedillo was able to get positioned on the lead, near the rail and never relinquish it.
The inevitable next questions: what and where for his next start and will it be at a place where Cedillo or Luis Saez will ride, will be left for another day. Post-TVG Pacific Classic, Baffert had mentioned the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 10 as a prelim to the Breeders’ Cup Classic – the TVG Pacific Classic was a “Win and You’re In” qualifier – in November at Keeneland. But he’s not making any commitment.
“I’m not sure yet,” Baffert said.
Mark Glatt, trainer of TVG Pacific Classic runner-up Sharp Samurai, said the 6-year-old gelding, making only his fourth start on dirt in a 21-race career, also came out of the race in good order. Sharp Samurai was entered in both the Classic and today’s Grade II $150,000 Del Mar Mile on grass and opted to go in the Classic.
The $100,000 runner-up share of the Classic purse, compared to $90,000 for a win in the Mile, says it was a wise decision. But Glatt wasn’t patting himself on the back.
“I don’t have a crystal ball and he would have been tough in the race today,” Glatt said Sunday morning. “But we (now) know he can run on dirt and that gives us a lot of options.”
Photo: Maximum Security. Credit: Benoit