Maximum Security: No Precedent

December 12, 2022

Maximum Security crosses the wire first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

By Laura Pugh

When a foul is committed in racing one of the biggest questions we ask ourselves is whether or not it cost the victim a placing. Essentially, did it affect them to the point it prevented an achievement they would have obtained if not interfered with.

This is what we use as a barometer when we look at whether the interferer should be disqualified or not…. This was the barometer used when disqualifying Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby. His interference caused a mess that affected the placement of several horses in the race that day. It resulted in him being removed as the winner and dropped to 17th.

Now, learning that he was indeed racing with performance-enhancing drugs in his system for the entirety of 2019 and part of 2020, we have to wonder just how much was affected.

Obviously, the Eclipse Awards were affected, but before looking into that, let’s look at some individual seasons. Starting with the Florida and Kentucky Derby.

Without the aid of SGF-1000 Maximum Security doesn’t even make it into the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Just think about that for a minute. Without him in the race, War of Will probably makes the lead and sets the pace… possibly even wires the field. Code of Honor could have been closer as well, since he wouldn’t have lost momentum trying to negotiate the mess caused in front of him.

If War of Will wins, he is a dual Classic winner and likely goes to the Belmont. We know he probably doesn’t win, but his value at stud would’ve been drastically increased. If Code of Honor got to the wire first, he would have been a Derby winner, Travers winner, and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner. A Triple that has only ever been accomplished once in the same season by Twenty Grand in 1931.

Mucho Gusto would have won the Haskell, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It would have been his third stakes victory in a row, before a third place in the Travers. A win in the Haskell could have meant that he trained up to the Breeders’ Cup instead of trying to squeeze in one last start in the Oklahoma Derby. Then who knows how he would have performed… considering his dominant win in the Pegasus World Cup when coming off a freshening, it’s probable that he would’ve made an impact in whatever race his connections chose.

Next is the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run. With a record of 7-5-0-2 coming into the Cigar Mile, a win would have been enough to throw his hat in the ring for Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old. Unfortunately, he ran into an enhanced Maximum Security.

Finally, while he never directly faced Maximum Security, Omaha Beach was affected by his performance on SGF-1000. His wins in the Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Sprint Championship, and Malibu gave him 3 Grade ones in 2019, more than Maximum Security. However, because the latter was still seen as the “Derby winner” despite his disqualification, that landed him with the Eclipse Award over Omaha Beach.

Never before have we seen interference like this… over an entire season. There is no precedent. But, if we use the same barometer that we use for single races, it’s clear what needs to be done. These horses were interfered with…. It’s time to set things right by elevating those we can. Just as we would do in any other race.

Contributing Authors

Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that...

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