News and STORIES

Cigar Mile Headlined By Maximum Security

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Friday December 06, 2019
Maximum Security will close out his crazy and controversial season with the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) on Dec. 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack. He will be looking for his third grade 1 victory in 2019. For that to happen, he will have to beat Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Spun to Run and nine other rivals. 

It was a year ago when Gary and Mary West's homebred colt was getting ready for his career debut in a $16,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream Park. The next 12 months contained multiple controversial and unexpected twists. 

Kentucky Derby Controversy

Maximum Security became the first-ever horse to be disqualified for a racetrack foul in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), which has been running for 145 years. 

"It's been a crazy year, that's for sure," trainer Jason Servis said.

With his victory in the Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1), Maximum Security became a grade 1 winner. After the Kentucky Derby, he won the Haskell Invitational (G1) after it was delayed for several hours and ran in 100-degree heat. 

The colt had to skip the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) due to fatigue, and he suffered from colic and had to skip the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) as well. He took the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3), a seven-furlong sprint against older horses. That was his most recent race, and he won by 1 3/4 lengths. 

With the Cigar Mile, Maximum Security will go into his final race of 2019 and try to better his chances at an Eclipse Award as the champion of his division. 

Servis believes that West's homebred 3-year-old is in good form for the race. 

"I'm a little superstitious, and I don't want to jinx myself, but he's doing great," Servis said.

Gary West is excited and confident that Maximum Security will enter into his 4-year-old campaign in a good spot. 

"Jason says the horse is doing as well as he has all year long," West said, "and that says a lot."

A Quality Field

Maximum Security will be going up against a quality field in the Cigar Mile. It is now in double digits and contains grade 1-winning 3-year-olds. 

"It's the first time he's taken on older grade 1 horses, and it came up with more horses and better horses than I thought," he said. "It's always a good race, but I think this is going to be a very good race."

Maximum Security has not yet raced at a mile in his career of eight races with six wins, but he has won at multiple distances. He has victories from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, and he finished first in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby. 

"He has speed he can carry over long distances, and that makes him dangerous at any distance," said West.

West will be appealing a federal judge's decision to uphold Maximum Security's disqualification.

Maximum Security competed in only one Triple Crown race and missed the Travers and Breeders' Cup, but West hopes the colt will be able to run in them in 2020. The next race for Maximum Security will likely be the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. 

West has no plans to go overseas for the Saudi Cup or the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airlines (G1), but he sees other possibilities in the major 2020 American races. 

"No one knows how this horse is doing better than Jason Servis," West said. "It took Maximum Security a long time to come around after the colic, and the Bold Ruler was a great spot for him timing-wise and the right distance to get him started. The Cigar is the logical distance after that with the Pegasus our next goal.

"I know there's a lot of money in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, but we'll forego the money to watch our horse run in America. Sometimes when horses go to Dubai, when they come back, they are not the same horses," added West. "My gut reaction is that we'll stay here and run in the major races in this country with the hyper-optimistic goal of the Breeders' Cup at the end of the year."