Let’s face it…sometimes stuff happens in life. Like it or not, that’s just how it is. Usually, there are two choices…get over it or get under it.
Maximum Security is one of those fantastic four-legged phenoms we call a Thoroughbred race horse. Due to no fault of his own, this four-year old son of New Year’s Day will forever carry an asterisk as the only Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified on race day. Despite crossing the finish line first as clearly the best horse in the 2019 Run for the Roses, this Kentucky-bred was taken down for interference in the far turn. As time has unfolded the asterisk became a little bigger as his then trainer, Jason Servis, faces federal doping charges. This brings into question his eight spectacular wins (nine if you count Kentucky Derby) in ten lifetime starts. Were those jaw droppers in the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, Haskell, Cigar Mile, and Saudi Cup a result of the genes or the juice?
Servis is now out of the sport and perhaps headed to the hoosegow. Maximum Security has been moved to the barn of Bob Baffert by his owners, Gary and Mary West. What’s done is done and this wonderful athlete has been working and looking every bit the beast we all thought he was before the news about his former conditioner broke.
“He trains like a really top horse,” says Baffert. “I am sorry for the reason he came to my barn but am also really excited for the opportunity to be involved with such a fabulous athlete. I’m really excited to see him run but at the same time am very nervous. When you condition top horses there is a lot of pressure that comes along with it. There are certain expectations and you hope to fulfill them.”
Maximum Security was scheduled to make his debut for Baffert in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 18. Due to some positive Covid 19 tests, restrictions have caused the race to be pushed back to July 25. In his only work over the Del Mar dirt in preparation for his first run out of a Baffert stall, Maximum Security quickly covered five furlongs in 59.8. As the 4th fastest from 88 works at the distance, it looks as if he is responding well to his new digs.
“He’s big, strong, and beautiful,” says Baffert. “We are looking forward to seeing him run.”
Does it really matter if Maximum Security ran dirty in previous races? At this point, the most important thing is to adopt the philosophy of his hall of fame coach. “Never look back”, is the Baffert barn motto. Having excelled at getting the most from his runners on the biggest days, Baffert seems to just the right guy in this situation.
A clean slate is what this horse deserves and that’s exactly what he’s got. If Maximum Security runs to form those question marks about his past will quickly become exclamation points.