DEL MAR, CA – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s charge Maximum Security left no doubt about his west coast supremacy with a strong front-running score in Saturday’s $500,00 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.
The Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Maximum Security receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Classic at Keeneland this November.
Maximum Security was the 2/5 heavy favorite as he broke from post 5 under Abel Cedillo and went straight to the lead as the field passed under the wire for the first time.
Sharp Samurai, a multiple graded stakes winner on turf, raced alongside the right hip of Maximum Security through measured opening fractions of :23.98, :47.98, and 1:12.37.
Coming under a drive midway through the far turn, Maximum Security straightened for home with a slightly growing advantage over his turf-to-dirt rival.
Pulling away in the stretch, Maximum Security crossed 3 lengths well clear in a final time of 2:01.24 for the 1 1/4-mile fast dirt route.
“The race went pretty much how I thought,” Cedillo said. “Bob told me to keep him off the rail because the speed was inside. If someone wanted to run up inside of us, I would have let them. He just galloped around the track. I was a little surprised that the outside horse (Sharp Samurai) was with us early and he stuck around. He ran big, but whenever he would get close, my horse would pull away on his own. He still had a little left at the end. I have to say this is probably the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”
Though no match for the bettors’ choice, Sharp Samurai was a strong second by 2 3/4 lengths over Midcourt, who nosed out the defending champion Higher Power for third.
The Argentinian import Mirinaque and recent local allowance winner Dark Vader completed the order of finish.
Maximum Security’s win was his second straight since joining Baffert’s barn and improved his overall record to 12-10-1-0 with $12,191,900 earned for co-owners Gary and Mary West (who also bred him) and the Coolmore triumvirate of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. The 4-year-old New Year’s Day colt gave Baffert his sixth Pacific Classic victory, tying him for most all-time with the late Hall of trainer Bobby Frankel.
“We mapped it out that he’s the quickest horse, he’s ready, and now you can ride him with a lot more confidence,” Baffert said. “Once he took the lead, I figured he’d be fine. … He just does things effortlessly. He wasn’t even blowing when he came back. I’m just so happy for this horse. … Today, he showed that he is a great horse.”
Maximum Security returned $2.80 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Sharp Samurai brought back $5 to place and $3.60 to show, while Midcourt paid $3 to show.