September 28, 2023

Maximum Security heads six-horse Pacific Classic

Maximum Security (left) edges Midcourt to win the San Diego H. at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

After narrowly winning his first outing for Bob Baffert, Maximum Security will make his second start back from a layoff in Saturday’s $500,000 Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. Last year’s champion 3-year-old male tops a field of six, and Abel Cedillo retains the mount.

The centerpiece event of the Del Mar meet, the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic serves as a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland on November 7.

Maximum Security faces a rematch against Midcourt after prevailing by a nose in the July 25 San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar. That marked his first start since February, and the four-year-old son of New Year’s Day has finished first in his last five races. His Saudi Cup triumph earlier this year is under investigation.

Multiple graded victor Midcourt will show speed from his innermost post. A close third at odds-on in the Santa Anita H. (G1) three back, the 5-year-old gelding rebounded nicely from a dull fifth in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), fighting back gamely when challenged by Maximum Security to just miss in the San Diego. Trained by John Shirreffs, Midcourt will have regular rider Victor Espinoza up.

Higher Power, a non-threatening third in the San Diego, will make a title defense, A 5 1/4-length upset winner at 9-1 odds last year, the 5-year-old horse has settled for mostly minor awards since, placing in four of his last five starts. The John Sadler trainee will try to regain his winning ways with Flavien Prat.

Grade 2 turf winner Sharp Samurai, a half-length second in the Eddie Read (G2) on July 26, will switch to dirt for Mark Glatt. Juan Hernandez has the call. Multiple Argentinean Grade 1 scorer Miranaque will make his North American debut, and last-out allowance winner Dark Vader completes the field.

Earlier on the program, a competitive cast of seven 3-year-old fillies will square off in the $100,000 Torrey Pines (G3) at a mile on the main track. Harvest Moon and Secret Keeper are top contenders in their first stakes attempt.

Secret Keeper improved to 2-for-2 with a facile entry-level allowance tally at Del Mar on July 25, registering field-best 96 Brisnet Speed rating for the 2 1/2-length decision. The Clifford Sise Jr.-trained daughter of Into Mischief stretches to two turns with Cedillo. Harvest Moon has won two straight since dropping her debut, posting a sharp 4 1/4-length entry-level allowance victory over a mile at Del Mar July 25. Prat has the reins for Simon Callaghan.

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