AND THEN THE BIG DOG ATE
A little more than two minutes after the gates opened in the 10th race at Del Mar on August 22 the questions were answered. This edition of the Pacific Classic was supposed to tell us about Maximum Security and in fact it did.
Coming into this mile and a quarter test, some wondered about this so-called super horse. With his previous conditioner, Jason Servis, embroiled in an illegal doping scandal there is an understandable stigma surrounding Maximum Security. If he ran dirty while under Servis’ care, which he likely did, were the 9 times he had crossed the finish line first in 10 tries real?
Doping is never cool, but it can’t turn Mr. Ed into Secretariat. There has to be talent to win. The drugs will enhance but cannot create those abilities. Question is, was this son of New Year’s Day a souped up beagle hound or a much larger breed that just happened to be the biggest victim in the scandal?
With one start under current conditioner Bob Baffert under his belt, we knew the determination of a real racehorse was there. Winning by a nose in the San Diego Handicap back on July 25 over a determined Midcourt, the only time he led was at the wire. But that showed his “refuse to lose” mentality.
A master at conditioning and bringing out the best in his runners on the biggest days, Baffert tightened the screws and sent Max to Post. Breaking like a champ, Maximum Security exuded confidence and ran like the best horse in the race…because he was. Leading gate to wire under jockey Abel Cedillo, Max was hounded by Sharp Samurai through the opening mile. Turning for home with authority, he put away the competition with a strong stretch run. Winning by a widening three lengths, the Gary and Mary West owned runner proved without a doubt he is real.
“It’s not his fault what he went through,” said Baffert. after the powerful run. “Today he proved he is a great horse.”
Maximum Security returned $2.80 on a win bet, Sharp Samurai held on for second, Midcourt finished third and defending Classic champ Higher Power was fourth.
So in the end in the 30th running of the Pacific Classic, the Great Dane cleaned his bowl.