SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Gary and Mary West homebred Maximum Security proved too tough, no matter the distance or age class, when he defeated a salty field in Saturday’s $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct.
Quick into stride as he broke from post 5 under Luis Saez as the 6/5 favorite, Maximum Security was unable to get an easy lead, thanks to fellow sophomore Spun to Run running directly to his outside. Together, the two colts posted opening fractions of :22.80, :46.17, and 1:11.03.
Separating from the field as they raced through the far turn, Maximum Security and Spun to Run hit the top of the stretch with a growing advantage over their foes. Maximum Security soon put any doubt of his supremacy to rest as he was set down for the drive home, clearing away under a vigorous hand ride.
Crossing victorious by 3 1/2 lengths, the Jason Servis trainee completed the mile-long event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:36.46.
“It’s a big deal to win the Cigar Mile here,” Saez said. “He’s a fighting horse. I knew the other horse (Spun to Run) has a lot of speed. I knew we had to fight, so my attitude was let’s see what happens. That’s what we brought him here to do and we just battled. He felt amazing. When we hit the turn, I knew we had a lot of horse. He gave me everything and it showed. He was amazing.”
Spun to Run, most recently the upset victor of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), was unable to keep pace with the winner but still held onto second by 2 lengths. True Timber got up in the shadow of the wire to take third by a 1/2-length over Looking At Bikinis, while behind them, Forewarned was a neck and a nose ahead of Bal Harbour and Whitmore, respectively.
Network Effect, Nicodemus, Pat On the Back, and Tale of Silence completed the order of finish.
Maximum Security’s win, his third straight following the Haskell Stakes (G1) and the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3), improved his overall record to 9-7-1-0 with $1,801,000 earned. The 3-year-old son of New Year’s Day, the odds-on favorite to be named Eclipse Award Champion 3-Year-Old, will likely head to the Pegasus World Cup Stakes (G1) for his next appearance.
“If the horse comes out of this race fine, then the Pegasus will be his next stop,” West said. “My personal opinion is he ought to be the 3-Year-Old Eclipse Award winner. I don’t think anyone has the credentials that he has demonstrated throughout the entire year. He’s had setbacks with colic and fought through some things, but that was a pretty impressive race we saw there.”
Maximum Security returned $4.60 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.60 to show. Spun to Run brought back $3.40 to place and $2.90 to show, while True Timber paid $6 to show.