The 3-year-olds took center stage last weekend in the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park and the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga. The weather was extremely hot, but the action on the track was even hotter. We saw big-time performances in both of the aforementioned races, as well as a nice effort at Del Mar by a major player in the older male division. Let’s check out who made our Three Stars of the Week after all of the action from the weekend came to an end:
1. Maximum Security
The most polarizing horse in racing lived up to that billing in Saturday’s Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park. At least this time around, he came away with an official victory. Turning for home, Maximum Security was once again involved in an incident, this time forcing the inside-running King for a Day to check hard. From that point on, Maximum Security took control of the race, leading into the stretch before holding off a determined Mucho Gusto to win by a head. After the race, the inquiry sign came on for the incident at the top of the stretch, but Maximum Security survived it, staying up as the winner. As for the performance, this clearly lands him as the number-one 3-year-old male going into the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. At this point, he is also the one to beat for the Eclipse Award in this division, while this victory eliminated any remaining doubts about his talent level.
It wasn’t as flashy as her first two victories, yet Guarana still came out on top in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga last Sunday. Breaking from the rail, she took a short lead early while setting slow fractions. The slower pace allowed her rivals to sit closer than expected, which gave fast-closing Point of Honor a shot when turning for home. Point of Honor ranged up beside Guarana, but the Chad Brown-trained filly battled back and pulled away for a 1-length victory. Like Maximum Security, Guarana had to survive an inquiry after drifting out in the stretch, but the stewards determined that she did not cost runner-up Point of Honor a placing. This triumph showed her determination to win, as she was facing a seasoned field while making her two-turn debut. This win puts her on top in the 3-year-old filly division.
3. Catalina Cruiser
Catalina Cruiser came to Del Mar looking for back-to-back San Diego Handicap (G2) victories, which was exactly what he accomplished last Saturday. Sent off as the heavy 1/9 favorite, he took control of the race right out of the gate and simply jogged around the track in a paid workout. The margin of victory was not as large as some thought it would be; however, it is important to note that jockey Joel Rosario did not ask the horse to run much. His distance limitations are still in question after this race, though, as the Breeders’ Cup Classic might be a bit too far for him. Regardless, this horse is regaining his best form, which will make him ultra-dangerous the rest of the season.