OCEANPORT, NJ – There was no controversial finish or post-race decision to be made Sunday when Red Oak Stable’s homebred King for a Day usurped Maximum Security in the stretch run to win the $150,000 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Breaking well from post 3 under Joe Bravo as the 5/1 second choice, King for a Day received a gift when the 1/9 favorite Maximum Security lunged in the air and then stumbled out of the gate. Though the bettors’ choice quickly recovered and secured command heading into the far turn, King for a Day was forward placed and applied constant, continuous pressure.
For the first time in his career, Maximum Security faced a tough rival that refused to give him any room to run freely while posting fractions of :23.58, :46.82, and 1:10.57. Off the far turn, King for a Day made his move and began to draw eye to eye with Maximum Security as they began pulling away from the rest of the field. Wearing down his foe through a prolonged stretch run, King for a Day pushed ahead near the 1/16 pole before hitting the wire with a 1-length advantage. The Todd Pletcher trainee’s winning time was 1:42.59 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“I liked how his paper looked,” said Bravo, who rode for the first time. “The horse has been coming into his own. I texted Todd Pletcher this week and he called me back in two seconds to tell me how high he was on this horse. He was in full control the whole race. Maximum Security stumbled the first couple of jumps and I am sure that hurt him a little bit and he was playing catch-up the rest of the time – even though he was in front until we got to him late. I just tried to keep my horse relaxed and ride my horse. He was good when he needed to be.”
Maximum Security was making his first start since crossing the wire first in the Kentucky Derby but was taken down in favor of Country House due to interference in the far turn. Trainer Jason Servis felt that Maximum Security’s immediate actions when the gates opened were what led to him not crossing first for the first time in six career starts.
“It stinks getting beat but that’s horse racing,” Servis said. “I think (the stumble) cost me the race, really. I got beat, what – 1/2 a length? Tough day. I think his next race will be better. I needed to get this out of the way. I was glad to get this out of the way, even though he got beat by a nice horse. I think his next race will be better. He was feeling good this morning. I sent him out. He was jumping and kicking. I think the stumble hurt us a lot.”
Though four other horses entered the field, none played a factor in the real running. Direct Order took third, with Last Judgment, Identifier, and Caladan completing the order of finish.
King for a Day’s win was his second straight after taking the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico last month to kick off his 3-year-old season. The son of Uncle Mo now sports a record of 5-3-0-1 with $210,550 earned.
“He ran the same way at Pimlico,” said Pletcher assistant Anthony Sciametta. “He’s good right now. He was good down in Florida before we sent him to Pimlico, and after that race, Todd took him to Belmont, and Todd said he never missed a beat. I know he told (owner Red Oak Stable) he breezed very well coming into this race. He’s a nice colt. Everyone associated with this horse has been high on him. He’s a competitive horse. He likes fighting like this.”
King for a Day returned $13.80 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.20 to show. Maximum Security brought back $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show, while Direct Order paid $3.80 to show.