Maximum Security, making his second start for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, went to the lead and drew off late to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Saturday to earn an all-expenses paid trip to the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic later in the year. 

Coming off a nose victory over Midcourt in last month’s San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, Maximum Security and jockey Abel Cedillo broke sharply and ushered the field through fractions of :23.93 and :47.98 for the opening half mile while Sharp Samurai and Midcourt prompted the pace.

With Sharp Samurai remaining lapped on Maximum Security’s outside through six furlongs in 1:12.37, last year’s champion 3-year-old colt began to gradually edge away from that stubborn rival nearing the quarter pole and then poured it on in the stretch to win going away as the 2-5 favorite.

Sharp Samurai, who was switching to dirt after being exclusively a turf horse in recent seasons for trainer Mark Glatt, held second and was followed across the wire by Midcourt and last year’s winner Higher Power. Maximum Security, who paid $2.80, completed 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:01.24. 

“It was very relieving to see him once he got the lead and a nice rhythm,” Baffert said. “I didn’t think the mile and a quarter would be a problem but you never know.” –