Maximum Security seized the lead at the start and rolled to a commanding victory in the $750,000 Cigar Mile H. (G1) at Aqueduct, likely cementing the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old male. Luis Saez guided the Gary and Mary West homebred to the 3 ½-length decision, and the classy Jason Servis-trained colt completed the one-turn mile in 1:36.46 as the 1.30-1 favorite.
Now a three-time Grade 1 winner this season, Maximum Security was also controversially disqualified from the Kentucky Derby after finishing first by 1 ¾ lengths. He captured the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park two starts later and after being freshened for three months, the Kentucky-bred son of New Year’s Day tuned up for the Cigar Mile with a facile win in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler (G3) at Belmont Park on October 26.
“This track was very slow today and it was hard to go fast and sustain that,” Servis said. “I’ve got to hold back tears. He’s special, that horse. It’s just a shame because he was the best horse in the Derby.”
Maximum Security has now earned $1,801,900 from a 9-7-1-0 record.
“I’m the wrong guy to ask, but I think it would be hard to not give it to him,” Servis said when asked about the 3-year-old championship. “Even if Omaha Beach wins the Malibu (G1) (on December 26 at Santa Anita), I don’t think his form looks anything like ours.”
Maximum Security logged fractions in :22.80 and :46.17 on a short lead, with Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner and 2-1 second choice Spun to Run chasing in second, and widened the advantage rounding the far turn. After reaching the eighth-pole with a three-length cushion, Maximum Security rolled home as much the best.
“It’s a big deal to win the Cigar Mile here,” Saez said. “He’s a fighting horse. I knew the other horse (Spun to Run) has a lot of speed. I knew we had to fight, so my attitude was let’s see what happens. That’s what we brought him here to do and we just battled. He felt amazing. When we hit the turn, I knew we had a lot of horse. He gave me everything and it showed. He was amazing.”
“The race came out like I expected,” said Juan Guerrero, trainer of Spun to Run. “Maximum Security is a great horse. My horse ran his race, we just couldn’t beat him. I’m very proud of my horse. It seemed like we were never going to catch him once Maximum Security got the lead. We had to settle for laying right off of him.”
Spun to Run easily held second while never a serious threat to the winner, finishing two lengths clear of 32-1 True Timber in third. Looking at Bikinis, Forewarned, Bal Harbour, Whitmore, Network Effect, Nicodemus, Pat On the Back and Tale of Silence completed the order.
A runner-up finish in June’s Pegasus (G3) at Monmouth Park represent the only time Maximum Security hasn’t finished first.
“He stumbled real bad in the Pegasus and I still think he wins that day,” Servis said. “He gets away, opens up three and they have to work to get to him. He very well could have gone undefeated. He’s truly special. If you watch the Bold Ruler, he switches leads and you almost can’t see it.”
Maximum Security is the lone stakes winner out of the Anaheed mare Lil Indy, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire and sire Flat Out, and connections were fortunate not to lose the two-year-old colt when debuting in a $16,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream in late December. Maximum Security won the race by 9 ¾ lengths and after a couple of romping wins over starter optional claiming foes, he stretched out to two turns with a decisive wire-to-wire score in the Florida Derby (G1).
Gary West said the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) on January 25 at Gulfstream remains the next target.
“If the horse comes out of this race fine, then the Pegasus will be his next stop,” West said. “My personal opinion is he ought to be the 3-year-old Eclipse Award winner. I don’t think anyone has the credentials that he has demonstrated throughout the entire year. He’s had setbacks with colic and fought through some things, but that was a pretty impressive race we saw there.”
Earlier on the card, multiple Grade 1 winner Spiced Perfection made short work of her rivals with a wire-to-wire triumph in the Go for Wand H. (G3). The four-year-old filly was favored at 7-5 over five rivals off a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, and the Peter Miller trainee notched her third stakes win of the season. Javier Castellano was up.
Queen of both the Madison (G1) and Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland this year, the California-bred daughter of Smiling Tiger also captured the La Brea (G1) last December and now has nine total stakes wins. Spiced Perfection is campaigned by Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch, and was bred by Premier Thoroughbreds. She increased her earnings to $1,214,405 from a 20-9-5-2 line.
Spiced Perfection stepped the mile distance in 1:39.11. Saguaro Row finished 2 ¾ lengths back in second and was followed by Our Super Nova, Needs Supervision, Another Broad and Espresso Shot.