More Proof the Derby DQ Was Flat Out Unfortunate

March 1, 2020

Maximum Security winning the inaugural Saudi Cup

The Maximum Security story should have been one of the racing’s great legends.

A colt of humble breeding, who started as a $16,000 claimer, goes on to win both the Kentucky Derby and the $20 million Saudi Cup, with a record of nine wins in ten starts and earnings over $13 million.

Instead, the words, “Crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby but had to be disqualified for interference and placed 17th” must be added to any story written about the determined Maximum Security, a son of New Year’s Day – Lil Indy, by Anasheed. And whether or not you agreed with the disqualification (this author agreed with it, despite the result making her lose out on the biggest payday of her gambling career), we can all agree that the disqualification was, if nothing more, flat out unfortunate.

Imagine a world where Maximum Security wasn’t disqualified: he is a graded stakes winner from seven furlongs to a mile and a quarter. Add in his Grade 1 win over a mile, and you get arguably the most versatile Kentucky Derby winner in recent memory (Big Brown and Animal Kingdom winning on the grass gives them a nod). 

The way he won the Saudi Cup, sitting back off the pace instead of his preferred place right on it, then dodging a drifting Mucho Gusto in the lane to outlast a great mare in Midnight Bisou to the wire, should have cemented Maximum Security’s greatness. Instead, many seem to be begrudgingly coming around to the fact that the horse is truly special.

He was just the second Haskell Invitational winner to take the Cigar Mile, and would have been the first Kentucky Derby winner to do so. If you count Churchill Downs, he has won over six different racetracks in ten starts. He can run on the front end or behind horses, and win by a pole or game out a victory over some of the best competition in the world. And in his most recent start, he did it without the aid of Lasix.

But every coin has a flip side. If Maximum Security wasn’t disqualified from the Derby win, he would have been pushed to make the Preakness Stakes. Perhaps his sophomore campaign would have looked different. He could have aimed for the Breeders’ Cup Classic instead of the Cigar Mile. He likely would have been retired earlier, and not been given the chance to run this year.

With any luck, Maximum Security will be able to continue his prowess throughout 2020, and while it will always be there, maybe he will do enough to push the Derby disqualification down to the end of any article written about him.

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