Not quite a Cinderella story, nor a fairytale - the story of Maximum Security has been pure drama.
The Kentucky-bred son of New Year’s Day, who was disqualified from the most important dirt race in America and went on to earn a three-year-old championship, took his show on the road and turned tragedy into comedy, bringing smiles to the face of his fans and connections with a determined victory in the world’s richest race, the US$20 million 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.
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 the Saudi Cup win to top-level victories in the Cigar Mile, Haskell Invitational and Florida Derby.
Luis Saez, jockey, Maximum Security, 1st: "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."
Jason Servis, trainer, Maximum Security: "You know, I was a little upset with Irad Ortiz who kept me tearing me out down the backside and who carried me out in the turn and when Max dropped inside he came down on me, but that is a story for another day. Really, that horse has got a lot of heart, he is some horse, he is amazing. It's got to be some vindication. He ran hard, I thought he was creased up in behind. He was really doing good. I am a bit superstitious and didn't want to over-talk him but the last three days, when he breezed the mile and one (1800m), he just ran and came off the track there was just a presence about him and I tried to stay calm, but I was really feeling good the last few days. Seven in the Florida Derby, seven in the Kentucky Derby, seven in the Haskell, he drew the seven in the Pennsylvania Derby and that is when he ended up in the clinic, and then when he drew the seven for this race…I was a little apprehensive about sending Garrett (son and work-rider) up to the stage because I was thinking if he draws 13 or 14 he will feel bad. When he pulled out the seven I texted (part-owner) Mary West and she is like 'you are kidding, right?' It's a good story. I have a great team with Coolmore and the Wests and they have great managers. We will have a conference call tomorrow morning and take it from there."
MV Magnier, representing part-owners Coolmore, Maximum Security: "All I can is that we are very lucky people that Gary and Mary West let us into the horse and all I can say, it is an absolute credit to the two gentlemen on my left, the job they have done with this horse, it's quite incredible. There were a couple of flutters all right, but Jason was very confident beforehand. The best man was riding. He gave him a fantastic ride."
Mike Smith, jockey, Midnight Bisou, 2nd: "She ran so well and I am so proud of her. She ran awesome. I did everything but we didn't come first, but she won, do you know what I am saying? Amazing weekend."
Oisin Murphy, jockey, Benbatl, 3rd: "I was very happy with him. He ran a stormer. He had a good trip."
Saeed Bin Suroor, trainer, Benbatl: "I’m proud of him. Maximum Security is a very good horse. Now we’ll take him back to Dubai and make a decision on the next race. Maybe he’d be better over 2000m, so we will think about the big race."
Bob Baffert, trainer, Mucho Gusto, 4th and McKinzie, 11th: "McKinzie just left there flat footed. He just never (gave any run). When I saw him back there I knew.
"I don't know what happened. (Mucho Gusto) broke like a shot and he just got tired. Those are good horses. (With regard to the pace), it looked like he was doing it easy. Turning for home I thought it was going to be like Gulfstream Park (where he came from behind to win the Pegasus) but he just got outrun."
Bill Mott, trainer, Tacitus, 5th: "He got hit coming out of the gate. He was on the inside and could get through but when he did get to the outside in the stretch he had two and a half furlongs (500m) to get there and didn't. No excuse really."
Christophe Lemaire, jockey, Gold Dream, 6th: “I thought I could have a better finishing position but unfortunately the last 150m he really got tired. He made a very good effort entering the straight, I had the race I wanted to have. Those American horses were just too good! No real excuses, he ran his race.”
Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer, Chrysoberyl, 7th: "He looked very well in form and seemed to feel good at the paddock, but was getting in a tense in the gate. He missed a break a bit and couldn’t get an ideal spot. He was moving ok in the stretch but hard to catch up from that position.
Ryan Moore, jockey, Magic Wand, 9th: "My girl always runs her race and I can’t fault her. It’s just a very different trip and the surface was too deep for her."
Frankie Dettori, jockey, Gronkowski, 10th : "He ran a really good race. He rode really well."
Joel Rosario, jockey, McKinzie, 11th: "He broke well there, he got a lot of dirt in the face being on the inside for a little. He was fine with that but it probably was not his day today."