A drama-filled season for Maximum Security can end on a distinctly high note Saturday if the three-year-old colt can walk away with a victory in the $750,000 Cigar Mile H. (G1) at Aqueduct.
The 122-pound highweight facing 10 rivals, Maximum Security can virtually claim a division championship he might have already secured by now if not for becoming the first horse in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby (G1) to be disqualified from first for a foul committed on the track last May.
A bout of colic in early fall also forced Maximum Security to miss an intended start in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and, subsequently, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The Florida Derby (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1) winner was thus re-routed to pair of one-turn events open to older horses.
Maximum Security impressively took the first of these, the seven-furlong Bold Ruler H. (G3) in late October, in wire-to-wire fashion by 1 3/4 lengths over the likes of Tale of Silence and True Timber. The latter missed in the 2018 Cigar Mile by less than a length.
The main challenger appears to be another three-year-old, Spun to Run, who is perfect from three starts at a mile, albeit all around two turns. A distant third in his only prior meeting with Maximum Security in the Haskell when coming off a four-month break, Spun to Run has dominated in his last two, including a 2 3/4-length tally over divisional stalwart Omaha Beach in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita last month.
“He’s pumped up. He’s ready to go,” trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero said.
Chad Brown has won two of the last three runnings of the Cigar Mile, and relies on the stakes-placed sophomores Network Effect and Looking At Bikinis, both of whom exit allowance wins.
The best of the older contingent appear to be Grade 1 veteran Whitmore and Bal Harbour. Whitmore won his only prior attempt over the Big A strip, in a 2016 allowance, and exits a closing third-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) behind Mitole and Shancelot.
“On a day that they weren’t making up a lot of ground and horses closer to the pace were doing better, I thought he did something a little different,” trainer Ron Moquett said of the Sprint.
Bal Harbour was beaten only a half-length into second by Preservationist in the Woodward (G1) two back. He shortens up after a distant third to Tom’s d’Etat in the nine-furlong Fayette (G2) at Keeneland over a sloppy track.
Spiced Perfection, winner of the Madison (G1) and Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland this term, looms as the one to beat in the $250,000 Go for Wand H. (G3) for fillies and mares at one mile. She will attempt to rebound from a distant fourth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) against the likes of Another Broad and Saguaro Row in the field of six.
Rescheduled from Thanksgiving Day, the $150,000 Winter Memories for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course has attracted the experienced graded stakes veteran Real Glorious, but rivals like Atomic Blonde, Shelter Island, Tuned, and Sorrentina Lemon all have a tremendous amount of upside.
Fire Key, Broadway Run, and Rocky Policy are among the leading candidates in the $125,000 Autumn Days, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for fillies and mares also rescheduled from last week.