Maximum Security with a new home track, new trainer and a new jockey is he still the same horse?
DEL MAR, Calif. – Maximum Security, the marvelously talented but seemingly star-crossed colt makes his return to the racing scene Saturday at Del Mar as he heads a field of six older horses in the 79th running of the Grade II San Diego Handicap.
Gary and Mary West’s homebred 4-year-old by New Year’s Day, whom they own in partnership with Magnier, Tabor and Smith, as well as the major Irish breeding entity Coolmore, will race in the Coolmore silks in the $150,000 San Diego, a key prep for the shore oval’s signature race – the TVG Pacific Classic scheduled for Saturday, August 22.
Maximum Security became the only horse ever disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby. In 2019, lost his trainer in March to alleged drugging issues after a triumph in the $20-million Saudi Cup. Nonetheless, the bay looms a stout favorite Saturday despite a) making his first start in five months; b) working under a new trainer (Bob Baffert); c) getting a new rider (Abel Cedillo), and d) making his first appearance on the West Coast.
His impressive ledger currently reads 10 starts, eight wins and $11,801,900 in earnings. Not surprisingly, he’ll pack top weight of 127 pounds in the mile and one-sixteenth San Diego, spotting his five rivals from five to nine pounds. He’s been made the even-money favorite for the race, which goes as the 10th event on an 11-race card that also features the San Clement Stakes and the Smiling Tiger Stakes.
While Maximum Security’s credentials make him the horse to beat in the San Diego, it is noted that the flashy speedster did not draw a field of patty cakes for his comeback.
Two of his rivals – Higher Power and Combatant, both trained by John Sadler – are millionaires and Midcourt, who runs out of the John Shirreffs barn, is a multiple stakes winner with more than $400,000 in the bank.
Higher Power captured last year’s renewal of the TVG Pacific Classic and no doubt is on a course to try for a repeat. The 5-year-old bay horse by Medaglia d’Oro was last out in the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 6 where he finished second to Improbable going nine furlongs. His bankroll reads $1,486,648.
Stablemate Combatant rang the bell in the Santa Anita Handicap in March for the biggest victory of his career. He’s a 5-year-old ridgling by the late Scat Daddy who’ll be making the 26th start of his career. He has earnings of $1,033,998.
Midcourt was eased after a rocky start in his latest effort, the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, but has come back to work well since. The 5-year-old gelding by Midnight Lute has finished in the top three in eight of his 11 starts, including five wins.
The G2 San Diego Field
Post, horse (sire), trainer, jockey, weight, owner, mlo
1. Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro) – John Sadler – Flavien Prat, 122 – Hronis Racing – 7/2
2. Ax Man (Misremembered) – Bob Baffert – Mike Smith, 118 – Patti and Hal Earnhardt – 8/1
3. Sharp Samurai (First Samurai) – Mark Glatt – Jorge Velez, 119 – Red Barons Barn and Rancho Temescal – 12/1
4. Combatant (Scat Daddy) – John Sadler – Drayden Van Dyke, 121 – Hronis Racing – 6/1
5. Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) – Bob Baffert – Abel Cedillo, 127 – Gary and Mary West, Magnier, Tabor and Smith and Coolmore – 1/1
6. Midcourt (Midnight Lute) – John Shirreffs – Victor Espinoza, 122 – C R K Stable – 4/1
Catalina Cruiser Wins 2019 San Diego Handicap (Grade II) Stakes at Del Mar
First post Saturday – just as it is on all days at the summer meet – is 2 p.m.
Del Mar Entries for Saturday, July 25
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Press Release
Photo: Maximum Security. Credit: Benoit Photos