OCEANPORT – When last seen by the racing world, Maximum Security was covering a mile-and-1/4 at Churchill Downs faster than any of his 19 competitors, only to be disqualified and placed 17th for interfering with several horses in a controversial decision by the Churchill Downs stewards.
Some 19 days later, with only a handful of curious onlookers paying attention, Maximum Security took to the track at Monmouth Park Wednesday morning for his first serious activity since hitting the wire first for the fifth time in as many career starts.
Owner Gary West told Bloodhorse.com that the Belmont Stakes on June 8 is no longer part of the plan, and that, as expected, the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Invitational on July 20 at Monmouth Park is the primary target, with the $150,000 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes as a possible prep race on June 16.
And so, trainer Jason Servis sent Maximum Security out to start his summer at the Jersey Shore by going a mile in two minutes, although it was how the son of New Year’s Day finished that was important. Beginning his workout on the backstretch, Maximum Security went through the first seven furlongs in 1:47 before picking up the pace. He covered his final furlong in 13 seconds, then galloping out the mile-and-1/8 in 2:13.
“Everything was good out there,’’ Servis said afterwards. “I’m very happy with it.’’
Monmouth Park clockers officially listed the work as a half-mile in 53.80, 20th out of 21 works listed for the distance at the track on Wednesday.
If Maximum Security were to run in the Pegasus, a mile-and-1/16 test, he could get at least two more workouts in before the race. Then it would be five weeks until the Haskell, to be run eight days earlier this year to accommodate NBC.
“He’s looking much better,’’ Servis said.
Maximum Security arrived by van from Churchill Downs on May 7, three days after the Kentucky Derby, and jogged on the track on May 9. Servis was not happy with what he saw that day, and had Maximum Security’s legs X-rayed. While the X-rays came back negative, Servis limited him to walking around the barn for the next week, before returning him to the track to jog on May 16.
When West said they would not run in the Belmont Stakes, he indicated it was because Servis said Maximum Security needed more time to recover from a grueling Kentucky Derby. In his previous start, Maximum Security won the Grade 1 Florida Derby. He also noted that none of the four owners of horses from the Kentucky Derby who he issued a $20 million challenge to have responded to the offer.
Stephen Edelson: email@example.com; @SteveEdelsonAPP