Maximus Meridius Seeks First Stakes in Gold Fever

May 3, 2024

Maximus Meridius’ Trainer Butch Reid at Parx. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y. — LC Racing, Cash is King and trainer Butch Reid, Jr.’s stakes-placed Maximus Meridius cuts back in distance as he looks for an elusive stakes score in Sunday’s Listed $150,000 Gold Fever, a six-furlong sprint for sophomores, at Belmont at the Big A. 

The Pennsylvania-bred son of the Reid Jr.-trained Maximus Mischief exits a second in the local seven-furlong Listed Bay Shore on April 6. After stalking the pace in third position early, he moved to the lead in the turn under Mychel Sanchez and established a four-length advantage by the stretch call but would be overtaken by a closing Reasoned Analysis in the final furlong. 

Hall of Famer Joel Rosario will be aboard Maximus Meridius for the first time Sunday from the outermost post 8. 

“He has a bad tendency of waiting on horses when he makes the lead and he did it again last time,” said Reid, Jr. “We’ll have to talk to the jock and make sure he makes a late move with him, and he’ll come running for them.” 

Previously, Maximus Meridius finished a prominent fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham going a one-turn mile here. The effort earned 10 qualifying points towards the Kentucky Derby, but Reid, Jr. deemed the colt would prefer shorter distances at this stage of his career. 

Reid, Jr. said shortening up to six furlongs could be appreciated by Maximus Meridius, who graduated by 10 1/2-lengths sprinting that distance on debut in November at Parx Racing.

Maximus Meridius’ last victory came with the addition of blinkers before the Gotham in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer on January 30 at the Bensalem oval. 

“I still don’t think he’s given us everything he has. He’s a very good horse, who is kind of cheating on us a little bit,” Reid, Jr. said. “I’m trying to drop him back in distance, get a confidence builder and then maybe go back and gradually stretch him out from there.” 

Maximus Meridius, who sports a 5-2-1-1 record with $139,700 in earnings, looks to maintain his focus in pursuit of a return to the win column.  

JAL Racing’s Doncho [post 3, Jaime Torres] was awarded a field-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure for a five-length debut victory sprinting six furlongs on December 30 at Fair Grounds. 

Trained by Michelle Lovell, the Mo Town dark bay turned around and matched his impressive number for a 4 1/2-length optional claiming score under returning rider Jaime Torres traveling the same distance on February 13 at the Louisiana oval. 

Doncho made his first stakes attempt last out in the seven-furlong Lafayette on April 5 at Keeneland, finishing fourth and never able to get by the pacesetting multiple stakes-winning Iowa-bred Glengarry, who improved his record to 5-4-1-0. 

Out of the Henny Hughes mare Sassy Redhead, Doncho was a $72,000 purchase at the 2023 OBS June Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale. 

Happy Tenth Stable’s Buccherino [post 1, Luis Rivera, Jr.] was impressive in his seasonal debut, leading at each call before drawing off to score by 6 1/4 lengths in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer on March 25 at Parx. Trained by Alfredo “Freddie” Velazquez, the Bucchero bay earned a career-best 85 Beyer in the winning effort under returning rider Luis Rivera, Jr. 

The Florida-bred Buccherino was given a winter freshening after finishing off-the-board in the six-furlong James F. Lewis III in November at Laurel Park. He previously captured an optional claimer by a neck there in October, after a fifth in the six-furlong Smoke Glacken won by eventual Group 3-placed Book’em Danno in September at Monmouth Park. 

“He’s doing one hundred percent good now. I had a problem with his foot but now it is good,” Velazquez said regarding Buccherino’s strong start to his sophomore campaign. “He is a much bigger horse. He is a much stronger horse now. With his foot, he would never break good, now he is one hundred percent.”

Bred by Blue River Bloodstock, Buccherino, who graduated at second-asking in August at Parx, was a $75,000 purchase at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. 

Happy Tenth Stable will also send out Yo Yo Candy [post 5, Angel Castillo] who sprung a memorable 46-1 upset in the Grade 3 Sanford under returning pilot Angel Castillo on July 15 at Saratoga Race Course. 

Trained by Daniel Velazquez, son of Freddie Velazquez, the Danzing Candy bay will cut back in distance after off-the-board results in the Spa’s seven-furlong Grade 1 Hopeful and the Big A’s one-mile Nashua before a last-out sixth in the Bay Shore. 

Kaleem Shah’s stakes-placed Billal [post 4, Junior Alvarado] was a two-length victor last-out over graded-stakes placed Scatify in a six-furlong optional claimer on April 6 at Keeneland. 

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the Street Sense bay was awarded a career-best 88 Beyer, improving upon off-the-board efforts in the seven-furlong Swale in February at Gulfstream Park and the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen here in December– that race’s 1-2 finishers Dornoch and Sierra Leone are set for posts 1 and 2 in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.  

Out of the Bernardini mare Bambalina, Billal, whose second dam is multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire and 2000 Champion Turf Female Perfect Sting, was a $725,000 purchase at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. 

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will be represented by stakes-placed Eliminate [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Grade 3-placed Pirate [post 7, John Velazquez] who is cross-entered in a Saturday optional-claimer at Churchill Downs. 

Spendthrift Farm and Repole Stable’s Eliminate enters off a third in the Bay Shore where he was 14 lengths back in last-of-10 after the first three-quarters before making a late run for third 2 1/4 lengths back of Maximus Meridius. The Curlin chestnut finished a distant ninth in the Gotham after a fourth-out graduation in a local 6 1/2-furlong maiden tilt in February. 

Harrell Ventures and Starlight Racing’s Pirate, a half-brother to last year’s Preakness winner National Treasure out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure, lived up to his post time favoritism for a debut score on July 15 at Saratoga. 

The Omaha Beach dark bay held off next-out winner and Kentucky Derby-hopeful Just Steel by three lengths going the 5 1/2 furlongs. Pirate exited the effort to run a close third in the Hopeful before a fourth in his seasonal debut in the aforementioned optional claimer won by Billal.

Rounding out the field is stakes-placed Iridescent [post 2, Manny Franco] for owner/trainer David Jacobson. The City of Light dark bay has hit the board in 4-of-4 starts for Jacobson since being haltered for $50,000 out of a local November optional claimer, including a second in the six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield here in January. 

The Gold Fever is slated as Race 7 on Sunday’s eight-race card that also features the Listed $150,000 License Fee [Race 3]. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. 

The Gold Fever Field

The Grade 3, $175,000 Beaugay, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for older fillies and mares which was originally scheduled for Sunday, will be brought back for Saturday, May 11 with entries to be taken Wednesday. 

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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