September 25, 2020

Maximum Security returns in Pegasus as prep for Haskell

Maximum Security is the first horse to be disqualified from a Kentucky Derby win for interference on the track (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

Last seen being disqualified after passing the post first in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Maximum Security begins the second half of the season as the pro tem divisional leader, by default, thanks to a muddled Triple Crown series. That’s a position he’ll look to shore up first on the Jersey Shore, using Sunday’s $150,000 Pegasus S. as his springboard to the July 20 Haskell Invitational (G1), both at his Monmouth Park summer base.

Only five rivals have signed on for the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus, most notably the Todd Pletcher duo of King for a Day and Last Judgment, and Maximum Security has been installed as the 1-2 morning-line favorite.

Trained by Jason Servis, the Gary and Mary West homebred brought an unbeaten record into the Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security graduated from a lowly $16,000 maiden claiming win and two starter allowance routs to wire the Florida Derby (G1). The son of New Year’s Day used his early speed to great effect at Churchill Downs, but veering out on the far turn, right across War of Will, proved costly as he was demoted to 17th. Country House was awarded the roses.

While the Wests have sought legal remedies to reinstate Maximum Security as the Derby winner, Servis freshened him up and mapped out his road to the Haskell. The colt’s Pegasus status came under a cloud earlier this week when Servis ordered bloodwork done, but he got the all-clear Thursday.

“He’s going to run,” Servis told Monmouth publicity. “The horse had a really good day today and I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t run.

“Maybe I was over-reading things a little too much, trying to be overly cautious,” Servis added regarding the blood panel. “He’s acting really good and training good and his bloodwork came back good.

“So maybe I just over-reacted a little bit.”

Derby rider Luis Saez stays aboard the 123-pound co-highweight, who’s drawn post 2, between the Pletcher pair.

King for a Day carries the same weight as a current stakes winner. Fourth in last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), the Uncle Mo colt returned with a good-looking score in the Sir Barton on Preakness Day. “Jersey” Joe Bravo picks up the mount on the promising type in post 3.

Last Judgment, entered with no rider listed, comes off a ninth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on Derby Day. Post 13 might have been a hindrance, and the Oaklawn allowance winner lands on the rail here.

Rounding out the field are the other Servis runner, Direct Order, who was just runner-up in a Belmont allowance to future Easy Goer winner Majid; Identifier, most recently second in a Gulfstream Park allowance for Jorge Navarro; and Delaware Park allowance winner Caladan from the Anthony Pecararo barn.