Maximum Security won’t proceed to the May 18 Preakness after being disqualified in the Kentucky Derby. Country House, Code of Honor and Tacitus, who were placed 1-2-3 in the first leg of the Triple Crown, are also bypassing the race. That leaves Improbable (fourth) and War of Will (seventh) as the top returnees expected at Pimlico.
Maximum Security was best in the Kentucky Derby but interfered with an advancing rival. Positioning is so important in the Kentucky Derby and War of Will was moving into the right spot before being cut off, stumbling and losing his momentum after making contact with Maximum Security’s back legs.
War of Will avoided going down but came unglued after being knocked off stride; nobody knows where he would have finished without being fouled.
Maximum Security, War of Will, Country House and Code of Honor appeared poised to separate themselves with nearly five-sixteenths of a mile remaining. The foursome was clear at the quarter-pole and Maximum Security proved to be the only one with any punch left for the final eighth of a mile, winning going away under the wire.
Neither Country House nor Code of Honor had the margin of error to salvage a top three placing if impeded like War of Will. They ran well to gain position by the top of the stretch and held for part while tiring late. War of Will wasn’t quitting before being fouled and may have made it a three-horse battle for the minor awards if given the opportunity.
Maximum Security didn’t have to drift out and watching the replay is no fun. I feel bad for everyone associated with the horse. But no matter how roughly run the Kentucky Derby can be, the leader can’t wipe out a top three contender turning for home. That’s never acceptable according to our rules. I thought the disqualification was warranted.
Preakness taking shape
Improbable took late money and left the Kentucky Derby starting gate as the 4-1 favorite, with Maximum Security the 9-2 second choice. He didn’t break forwardly from an inside post and settled just off the pace behind runners. Improbable remained in traffic throughout while racing evenly and backers will be looking for a better trip at Old Hilltop. The chestnut colt has seven-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert in his corner and could easily go favored once again.
War of Will also figures to be among the betting choices. Other Derby alumni under consideration for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown are Win Win Win, who was elevated to ninth; and the maiden Bodexpress (13th).
Cloud Computing (2017) and Rachel Alexandra (2009) are the most recent Preakness winners to miss the Kentucky Derby and Alwaysmining heads a solid group of “new shooters” this year. He’s certainly going to impact the pace with his speed and the Maryland-bred gelding will bring a six-race win skein to the 1 3/16-mile event, capturing every race by open lengths. Alwaysmining has posted career-best 99 BRIS Speed ratings in the last two starts and appears very formidable.
Anothertwistoffate, Bourbon War, Owendale and Signalman will also join the fray and can’t be dismissed from consideration. A total of 10 are considered probable and I’ll preview the Preakness next week.