News and STORIES

Maximum Security, War of Will, Improbable Are Pennsylvania Derby Nominees

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday September 11, 2019
The Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby has drawn 21 thoroughbreds that are nominated to run in the 1 1/8-mile race on Sept. 21 at Parx Racing. It will be the 40th running of the event. 

The race was upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2017, and it is now regarded as a top prep race for 3-year-olds looking towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Maximum Security

One of the nominees in the group is Gary and Mary West’s Maximum Security. He is coming off of a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 20 at Monmouth Park. He came into the May 4 Kentucky Derby with a 4-4 perfect record in his previous four races, and he had a 3 1/2-length win in the Florida Derby. 

The Jason Servis colt beat out the field in the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths, but he was eventually disqualified to 17th due to interface during the race. Maximum Security, the son of New Year’s Day, then skipped over the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. 

His next start was in the $150,000 Pegasus at Monmouth Park. He had some trouble at the break but went on to finish second behind King for a Day. The Penn Derby might be the first time that Maximum Security goes against some of the same horses from the Kentucky Derby. 

Maximum Security’s career earnings are sitting at $1,279,400. 

War of Will

Gary Barber’s War of Will, the winner of the Grade 1 Preakness, will be looking to score a victory after finishing behind first in his last two starts. The last time that he won was in the Preakness where he crossed the line 1 1/4 lengths ahead. He then went on to finish ninth in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes. 

The Mark Casse-trained son of War Front then looked hopeful in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 27 before falling back to fifth. His three-year-old year started off with a four-length victory in the Grade 3 LeComte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 19. He also went on to win the Grade 2 Risen Star by 2 1/4 lengths a month later. 


Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer, is looking to bring the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity winner Improbable to the race. He will be coming in from his barn at Del Mar to face off against the 3-year-olds.

If Improbable were to win, it would be Baffert’s third straight and fourth overall in the Pennsylvania Derby. He won his first Penn Derby in 2014 with Bayer, and he then had back-to-back victories with West Coast and McKinzie three years later. 

Bayern has set the stakes record at 1:46.96 for the 1 1/8-mile race. The City Zip colt is owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd., and Starlight Racing. In his last start, he beat out three others to win the $100,000 Shared Belief at Del Mar. 

Improbable ran in the Grade 2 Rebel and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, where he finished second both times. He then went on to finish fourth after a disqualification in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Preakness. 

The Pennsylvania Derby will give some of the Kentucky Derby rivals a chance to run against each other yet again. Other nominees include horses such as Mucho Gusto, Tacitus, Code of Honor, and Cairo Cat. It will run on Sept. 21 at Parx Racing.