Racing Roundup: Maximum Security’s return, thoughts on Triple Crown, Foster Night at Churchill

Racing Roundup: Maximum Security’s return, thoughts on Triple Crown, Foster Night at Churchill
Maximum Security is about to return to the races. (Photo: Dan Dry/PriceWeber)
Mike Hartnett is one of WAVE 3 News' expert horse handicappers.
Mike Hartnett is one of WAVE 3 News' expert horse handicappers.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Maximum Security is about to return to the races.

On Sunday, the 3-year-old colt will go postward in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, where he’ll face five challengers. In his first race since his infamous disqualification as the first-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was made the 1-2 morning-line favorite for Sunday’s mile-and-a-sixteenth test. His trainer, Jason Servis, said he wants to use the Pegasus as a stepping stone to Monmouth’s Haskell Invitational on July 20.

Maximum Security’s Derby DQ was part of an interesting and controversial Triple Crown season. His infraction during the Run for the Roses aside, the colt did put together an excellent performance at Churchill Downs. Of course, the big disappointment for fans was that both Maximum Security and the declared Derby winner, Country House, both missed the Preakness two weeks later.

So we ended up with three races and three separate winners, and what’s left is a wide-open chase for the 3-year-old championship. This battle for supremacy might make for good theater for us fans.

The biggest winner during the Triple Crown chase was trainer Mark Casse. With victories in two of the three jewels, Casse almost certainly nailed down a future spot in the sport’s Hall of Fame. Trainer Bill Mott enjoyed a big springtime run with Country House and Tacitus. But trainer Bob Baffert, who held such a strong hand heading into the Derby, was left with some questions after his top trio faltered in the first leg of the Triple. Game Winner did have a tough trip at Churchill, and was being pointed to the Preakness before dropping out of the second leg at Pimlico. It’s not clear when that colt and stablemates, Roadster and Improbable, will surface next.

Omaha Beach is back in California following throat surgery, which forced him out of the Derby. His trainer, Richard Mandella, has hinted that his runner probably won’t make either the Haskell or the Travers. Still, Omaha Beach has plenty of time to be a force during the last half of the racing calendar.

Moving on now to discuss Churchill Downs’ huge Saturday night card, which features the $600,000 Stephen Foster Stakes as the night’s centerpiece. The Foster has attracted a strong collection of older runners, including morning-line favorite Gift Box. Gift Box is riding high so far in 2019, having captured the Santa Anita Handicap, to go with a second-place finish in the Gold Cup at the same track. The Gold Cup was three weeks ago, and John Sadler, Gift Box’s trainer, believes his horse is doing so well that he’s wheeling him right back into the Foster.

Yoshida, trained by Bill Mott, is also among the top Foster contenders. Yoshida finished a decent fourth last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Classic held at Churchill. He is coming off a sixth-place effort in March’s Dubai World Cup. Seeking the Soul could be tough on Saturday night. He ran second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational back in January.

During Saturday’s card, the connections of Kentucky Derby winner Country House will be honored for capturing this year’s Run for the Roses.

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