By Alan Carasso
It’s never easy being the hunted.
Making his first start since the federal indictment of his former trainer Jason Servis and sent out for the first time by trainer Bob Baffert, Eclipse Award winner Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) looked destined for defeat in Saturday’s GII San Diego H. But the 4-year-old, last seen winning the $20-million Saudi Cup nearly five months ago, overcame some aggressive race riding and perhaps some ring-rustiness to grab Midcourt (Midnight Lute) to take it by a nostril.
Given a positive ride from the gates by Abel Cedillo, subbing for Luis Saez, Maximum Security led passing under the wire, but Victor Espinoza on Midcourt \was clearly intent on making the lead and Cedillo allowed him to do so rounding the turn. No sooner had that happened when Flavien Prat aboard Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro) decided to up the ante, sending his mount quickly up outside of the favorite to put him in a pocket at the six-furlong peg. Steadied at that point, Maximum Security lost a couple of lengths and was ultimately steered into the clear, but he was under a ride with fully four furlongs to race, looking to have it all to do. Nevertheless, Maximum Security continued to grind away and was more or less on even terms as they hit the top of the lane. It looked as if he might edge clear, but Midcourt–in receipt of five pounds–boxed on gamely inside, only to be on the wrong end of the photo finish.
Winner of the GI Florida Derby and GI Haskell Invitational S. either side of his GI Kentucky Derby demotion, Maximum Security missed the GI Travers S. and GI Pennsylvania Derby, but would go on to defeat older rivals in the GIII Bold Ruler H. and in the GI Cigar Mile H., earning him the Eclipse. Connections elected to skip the GI Pegasus World Cup in January in favor of the Saudi Cup and he proved equal to the task, calling upon his determination to account for another Midnight Lute offspring–namely, champion Midnight Bisou–by three-parts of a length.
Maximum Security’s dam was acquired by Gary and Mary West for $80,000 in foal to Pioneerof the Nile at Keeneland November in 2014 and was sold to Korean interests for $11,000 carrying a full-sibling to the then unraced 2-year-old Maximum Security, who would make a victorious debut in a maiden $16,000 claimer about six weeks later. Lil Indy and her weanling Korean-bred full-sister to Maximum Security were acquired and returned to the U.S. and prepared for last year’s Keeneland November sale. Lil Indy fetched $1.85 million in foal to Quality Road, while the weanling was bought back on a bid of $190,000. Lil Indy, a half-sister to MGISW Flat Out (Flatter), produced a colt by Quality Road Apr. 23.
Saturday, Del Mar
SAN DIEGO H.-GII, $150,000, Del Mar, 7-25, 3yo/up, 1 1/16m, 1:44.54, ft.
1–MAXIMUM SECURITY, 127, c, 4, by New Year’s Day</strong
1st Dam: Lil Indy, by Anasheed
2nd Dam: Cresta Lil, by Cresta Rider
3rd Dam: Rugosa, by Double Jay</strong
O-Gary & Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor &
Derrick Smith; B-Gary & Mary West Stables Inc. (KY); T-Bob
Baffert; J-Abel Cedillo. $90,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. 3yo
Colt & MGISW-US, 11-9-1-0, $11,891,900.
Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Midcourt, 122, g, 5, Midnight Lute–Mayo On the Side, by
French Deputy. ($450,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-C R K Stable LLC;
B-Dixiana Farms LLC (KY); T-John A. Shirreffs. $30,000
3–Higher Power, 122, h, 5, Medaglia d’Oro–Alternate, by
Seattle Slew. ($250,000 4yo ’19 KEEAPR). O-Hronis Racing LLC;
B-Pin Oak Stud, LLC (KY); T-John W. Sadler. $18,000.
Margins: NO, 6 1/4, 1 1/4. Odds: 0.40, 6.00, 3.50.
Also Ran: Ax Man, Combatant. Scratched: Sharp Samurai
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.