ELMONT, N.Y. – Gary and Mary West’s multiple Grade 1-winner Maximum Security will make his Belmont Park debut in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and upward on closing weekend of the fall meet.
Trained by Jason Servis, the New Year’s Day colt has crossed the wire first in six of seven career starts, including Grade 1 scores in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in March and the Haskell Invitational last out on July 20 at Monmouth Park.
The front-running bay graduated at first asking by 9 3/4-lengths in a key maiden $16,000 claimer in December at Gulfstream that saw third-place finisher Math Wizard also reach prominence in September with a score in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.
Maximum Security dominated a pair of optional-claiming tilts at Gulfstream ahead of his Florida Derby coup and left the gate in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs as the 9-2 second choice. With regular pilot Luis Saez up, Maximum Security led gate-to-wire in the first leg of the Triple Crown, but was demoted to 17th for interference approaching the five-sixteenths marker.
He returned to action on June 16 in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park, where he stumbled from the gate and was beaten to the wire for the first time by multiple stakes winner King for a Day. In the nine-furlong Haskell, Maximum Security returned to his dominant form when besting Mucho Gusto by 1 1/4-lengths.
With victories ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8-miles, the versatile Maximum Security returns to a sprint distance for the first time since an 18 ¼-length score in a seven-furlong optional-claimer at Gulfstream on February 20.
The Servis trainee, who had to scratch from the Pennsylvania Derby due to a bout of colic, enjoyed a strong gallop on the Belmont training track Sunday and the veteran conditioner said Maximum Security should enjoy a slight turnback as he prepares for a fall campaign.
“It was great,” said Servis of the training session. “I like the cut back. He’s won at this distance. All systems are go.”
Saez retains the mount from the inside post.
To capture the Bold Ruler, which will serve as key prep for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile set for December 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack, Maximum Security will have to topple a talented field of eight, led by graded-stakes winners Tale of Silence, Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky and Knicks Go.
Charles Fipke homebred Tale of Silence, a 5-year-old Tale of the Cat bay, made the grade in the Grade 3 Westchester in May 2018. A Belmont specialist with a record of three wins and one second from seven starts on Big Sandy, Tale of Silence finished fourth last out in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap on September 21.
In 2010, Tagg finished second in the Bold Ruler with Fipke homebred Jersey Town ahead of a 34-1 upset in the Cigar Mile. The veteran conditioner said Tale of Silence posted a strong bullet breeze in 48.33 on the Belmont main on Tuesday.
“He had a sharp blowout. He’s a fast horse,” said Tagg. “He’s not a top horse yet, but we’re hoping he’ll start to improve. I like the distance for him. Our goal with him is the Cigar Mile.”
Junior Alvarado will pilot the Barclay Tagg-trainee for the first time from post 2.
Killybegs Captain, trained by John Terranova for Curragh Stables, boasts a record of 6-5-3 from 24 career starts. The 5-year-old Mizzen Mast gelding arrives at the Bold Ruler from a three-quarter length score in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, a six-furlong sprint held September 21 at Laurel Park.
Eric Cancel retains the mount from post 6.
Daniel McConnell’s ultra-consistent homebred Prince Lucky, trained by Todd Pletcher, has won seven of 14 career starts while banking $593,570 in purse earnings. Bred in Pennsylvania, the 4-year-old Corinthian gelding is 3-for-6 this season, including scores in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile.The versatile Prince Lucky captured the 1 1/16-mile State Dinner on July 7 at Belmont and last out finished a game second in the Kelso.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will guide Prince Lucky from the outermost post.
KRA Stud Farm’s Knicks Go enters the Bold Ruler seeking his first win since registering a gate-to-wire score last October in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland at odds of 70-1.
Trained by Ben Colebrook, the 3-year-old Paynter colt was a game second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs before a string of five off-the-board efforts in graded events.
Following a prominent second in the Ellis Park Derby in August, Knicks Go ran fourth in the Grade 3 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in September and was second last out, on October 4, in a Keeneland allowance sprint won by well-regarded Looking At Bikinis.
Knicks Go will emerge from post 5 under Dylan Davis.
Calumet Farm’s True Timber, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, ran second to No Dozing in this event last year. The 5-year-old son of Mineshaft has amassed $836,550 in purse earning despite never having won a stakes event. With a record of 4-4-5 from 20 starts, True Timber finished third in the Grade 3 Jerome and second in the Grade 3 Withers at the Big A as a sophomore. Last year, he rallied to be second in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.
He ran third last out in the Kelso with a prominent trip under Joe Bravo.
“He broke sharp last time and was there. Going seven-eighths, he probably won’t be as close. We’re just happy to have him back off the long layoff,” said McLaughlin. “He ran pretty well in the Kelso and we’re hoping he’ll run well again on Saturday.
“He just missed in the Cigar Mile last year. He’s a beautiful horse,” added McLaughlin. “It’s hard to see him finish second, third and fourth in these races – he deserves a win.”
Bravo will pilot True Timber from post 4.
Rounding out the field are Diamond King (Jose Ortiz, post 7) and Wonderful Light (Manny Franco, post 3).
The Bold Ruler is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race card, which also features the $100,000 English Channel in Race 5 and $100,000 Awad in Race 9.