NOT quite a Cinderella story, nor a fairytale – the story of Maximum Security (USA) has been pure drama. The Kentucky-bred son of New Year’s Day, who was disqualified last year from the most important dirt race in America and went on to earn a 3-year-old championship, took his show on the road and turned tragedy into triumph, bringing smiles to the face of his fans and connections with a determined victory in the world’s richest race, the $20,000,000 Saudi Cup.
Breaking alertly from post seven under Luis Saez, the Jason Servis-trained charge was caught in a chess match throughout with Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto (USA) and Irad Ortiz Jr, stalking the speedy pair of Capezzano (USA) and North America (GB) in tandem before Mucho Gusto forged past those two and Maximum Security quickly followed.
Ortiz then went wide around the lone turn, forcing the eventual winner at least five-wide turning for home and then coming out even more at the top of the stretch. Saez acted quickly and shifted paths to inside the eventual fourth-place finisher, forging past and then holding off the late charge of runner-up and fellow American champion Midnight Bisou (USA), as well as globetrotting Group 1 winner Benbatl (GB).
The final margin was three-quarters of a length, with two lengths separating the aforementioned top-class mare and Godolphin colour-bearer. The order of finish was completed by Mucho Gusto, Tacitus (USA), Gold Dream (JPN), Chrysoberyl (JPN), Mjjack (IRE), Magic Wand (IRE), Gronkowski (USA),McKinzie (USA),Great Scot (GB), North America and Capezzano. The final time for 1800m on dirt was 1:50.58.
Saez commented: “Oh my god, this is amazing, to win the race, to be here, to travel from far away and to have a victory for United States, for Panama, for all my people, this is something I don’t have words for. This is the true Kentucky Derby winner. I’m so glad to be on the horse. This is a big deal. I would like to thank god, the owners for letting me ride the horse and I would like to thank my brother. I know you are watching me, I love you.”
Owned by Gary and Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, the West homebred won for the seventh time in nine starts and increased his career earnings to $11,801,900. He adds today’s win to top-level victories in the Cigar Mile, Haskell Invitational and Florida Derby.