(Maximum Security before this year’s KY Derby / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
By Jonathan Lintner / HorseRacingNation (www.HorseRacingNation.com)
Well, this changes things…
Maximum Security, off as the 1-9 favorite in Sunday’s $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, was pressured and then passed by King for a Day deep in the Monmouth Park stretch, marking the first time the star 3-year-old colt didn’t hit the wire first in his six career starts.
“It sucks getting beat, but that’s horse racing,” said trainer Jason Servis.
Back after disqualified in the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was antsy while standing in the gate, then bobbled leaving stall two of six. But he shot to the front nonetheless under jockey Luis Saez.
“I think it cost me the race, really,” Servis said. “He got beat what, a half a length?”
After opening fractions of 23.58 and 46.82 with King for a Day looming close to his outside, Maximum Security came under a vigorous ride through the far turn. In the stretch, he was all out, with King for a Day edging by late on the outside.
It was well back to another Servis trainee, Direct Order, for third in Monmouth’s local prep for the July 20 Haskell Invitational (G1).
“He wanted to break so he broke so fast he stumbled,” Saez said of Maximum Security. “He was all right after that but I sensed he was getting a little tired in the final half mile.”
“I think his next race will better,” Servis added. “I needed to get that out of the way.”
In the meantime, conversation about the nation’s top 3-year-old will only ratchet up as sophomores regroup for summer staples such as the Haskell, along with Saratoga’s July 27 Jim Dandy (G2) and Aug. 24 Travers (G1).
King for a Day, a Red Oak Stable homebred trained by Todd Pletcher, entered off a Preakness Stakes undercard victory in Pimlico’s Sir Barton. Under jockey Joe Bravo, he drove to 1 1/16 miles in a final time of 1:42.59.
“My horse did it all comfortably,” Bravo said. “He’s a growing up big 3-year-old that’s really coming into place.”
Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher’s assistant, said King for a Day “trained great” when with him leading into the Sir Barton. He went to New York with Pletcher’s main string between races.
“Everyone associated with this horse has been high on him,” Sciametta said. “He’s a competitive horse. He likes fighting like this.”
King for a Day has now won three of five starts and may have put himself in the Haskell conversation with back-to-back stakes scores.
Matt Shifman contributed to this report.