News and STORIES

Maximum Security Set for Pacific Classic

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Friday August 21, 2020
Even though the $500,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) has had its purse cut in half, the race has still attracted some high-level runners. 

The 1 1/4-mile event is set to run on Aug. 22 at Del Mar on dirt. The race will see the likes of Maximum Security, the champion 3-year-old male of last year. Some of the other top entrants include Midcourt, who performs well at Del Mar, defending champion Higher Power, and three other impressive runners.

The event is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland. 

Champion Among the Field

It is not the first time that a champion was part of the Pacific Classic field. Over the last ten years, the race has seen Eclipse Award winners Accelerate, California Chrome, Beholder, Shared Belief and Acclamation. They did not just participate in the event, but they won it.

Maximum Security will be the favorite, coming off a victory in the San Diego Handicap (G2) July 25 at Del Mar. He ran past two top rivals, Midcourt and Higher Power, spotting them five pounds apiece. At the Pacific Classic, all starters will carry 124 pounds.

The San Diego was Maximum Security’s first race since he won the Saudi Cup Feb. 29. 

However, there is a current investigation by Saudi officials, with the earnings for first prize being on hold. The investigation came after the colt’s previous trainer, Jason Servis, was indicted on doping-related charges in March.

Maximum Security is now being trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. The colt is a 4-year-old son of New Year’s Day owned by his breeders, Gary and Mary West, along with Coolmore Stud-affiliated Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. Coolmore purchased 50% of the colt in mid-December. 

Even though Maximum Security took the San Diego by just a nose over Midcourt, Baffert was still happy with the performance. He was faced with aggressive riding from two opposing horses and jockeys, and he eventually went first to third in the early part of the race before winning. 

According to Baffert, the San Diego “really woke him up.” “He’s been pretty sharp, feeling good, and doing well. I think he’s coming into it really well. I like the way he gutted it out that first out. I got to know the horse better. His last few works were really strong.”

Maximum Security was disqualified from first for interference in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). He is looking for his first grade 1 victory of 2020 after taking three upper-tier races last year. 

He will break from post 5, outside Midcourt, the other fast horse in the race. The jockey aboard will be Abel Cedillo.

Higher Power

Hronis Racing’s Higher Power is looking to come back after five consecutive losses since taking this race last year. According to trainer John Sadler, he has the potential for improvement.

"I think this horse's best races are a mile and a quarter," he said. "We ran him the other day—I don't want to say as a prep—he was in such good shape I wanted to run him. But he seems like he gets a little bit outfooted, especially at a mile and sixteenth. I think the distance is going to close the gap."

Sadler said that since all of the top finishers ran below their normal speed figures, the San Diego was difficult to judge.

"It is a fascinating race," he said of the Pacific Classic. "Is Maximum Security going to step out or stay the same? Is he vulnerable? It should be kind of interesting which Maximum Security we're going to get."

Sadler and Hronis Racing have taken the past two Pacific Classics, and Baffert is a five-time winner, with four coming since 2009.

The field will also include Dark Vader, Sharp Samurai and Mirinaque.