Maximum Security out but tough PA Derby field remains
War of Will won the 144th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Photo by Dottie Miller.
Maximum Security is out. And that makes Saturday’s Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing a wide-open affair.
Maximum Security, the winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational, crossed the wire first in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby in May but was disqualified after a bumping incident with War of Will — the winner of the Preakness who is slated to run in the Pennsylvania Derby in what would have been the first meeting of the pair since the first Saturday in May.
But Maximum Security was declared out of the race because of a large colon nephrosplenic entrapment that developed shortly after the colt returned from a morning work on Monday, trainer Jason Servis announced on Tuesday. Servis said that an issue developed with his star 3-year-old late Monday afternoon, and that Maximum Security was rushed to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Clinic in Ringoes, N.J., where the diagnosis was made by Dr. Janik Gasiorowski. The medical issue is not considered career-threatening.
“I’ve spoken to the Wests (owners Gary and Mary), and they understand that it’s all about the horse. That’s first and foremost,” said Servis. “There’s nothing that anyone could have done to prevent it. It’s one of those things that just happens. It’s unfortunate and the timing is terrible but that’s horse racing.”
Maximum Security had gone a one-mile lick at Parx early Monday morning without incident, with Servis saying he was summoned to his barn around 3:30 p.m. because something was amiss with the horse.
“He was doing great,” Servis said. “But I soon as I saw him I could tell he was in trouble so we got him right on the van and sent him to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Clinic.” Servis said he did not have a time frame for a possible racing return for Maximum Security, holding out hope, he said, for the Breeders’ Cup “or something else that might be out there.” Maximum Security is currently back in Servis’ barn at Monmouth Park.
The scratch of Maximum Security leaves Improbable the 3-1 morning line favorite. The Bob Baffert-trained son of City Zip has won four of eight career starts with earnings of $829,500. He was undefeated as a two-year-old, including a Grade 1 score in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity. But though he went off the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Improbable’s three-year-old campaign has been, to date, something of a disappointment. He lost his first four starts of the season, including a fourth-place finish in Louisville, before breaking through with a win in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. Mike Smith has the mount.
Gary Barber’s War of Will (5-1) was, of course, the colt most directly affected by the actions of Maximum Security in the Derby. War of Will came into the Derby with a terrific spring resume, having captured both the G3 LeComte and the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds before problems at the start resulted in a sub-par performance in the Louisiana Derby. He came back from the Derby with a perfect-trip victory under Tyler Gaffalione in the Preakness, making the War Front colt a classic winner for trainer Mark Casse. Since, he’s had two disappointing runs, finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Belmont and fifth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Working bullets at Saratoga, he hopes to recapture his spring form Saturday afternoon. Gaffalione will ride once again.
The late blooming colt that may stand in their way is Mr. Money (4-1). Out of the Bret Calhoun barn and sporting the colors of Allied Racing Stable, the Goldencents colt comes into the race off four consecutive graded wins, all by daylight. His streak started on Derby Day, winning the G3 Pat Day Mile on the undercard by better than five lengths. He’s followed that with wins in the G3 Matt Winn (by 6 ½), the G3 Indiana Derby (by 2 ½) and the G3 West Virginia Derby (by 6). As a two year-old his connections thought enough of him to send him to the G1 Breeders Cup Juvenile directly off his maiden win, where he performed more than admirably, running a very respectable fourth at 41-1. Gabriel Saez will ride.
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