DEL MAR— Heavily favored Maximum Security led wire-to-wire in Saturday’s Grade 1 $500,000 TVG Pacific Classic, winning Del Mar’s richest and most prestigious race by three lengths.
Maximum Security was a half-length ahead of Sharp Samurai through a quarter-mile, half-mile, three-quarters of a mile and mile, then expanded his lead to a length-and-a-half entering the stretch of the mile-and-a-quarter race for 3-year-olds and up.
“I was a little surprised that the outside horse (Sharp Samurai) was with us early and he stuck around,” jockey Abel Cedillo said. “He ran big, but whenever he would get close, my horse would pull away on his own.”
The victory in the “Win and You’re In” race gave Maximum Security guaranteed entry with all fees paid for the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run Nov. 7 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
Maximum Security was the 2-5 favorite and paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. He was timed in two minutes, 1.24 seconds. Sharp Samurai paid $5 and $3.60. Midcourt finished third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Sharp Samurai, paying $3.
Higher Power finished fourth in his bid to become the fourth horse to win back-to-back Pacific Classics.
Each of the six horses in the 30th edition of the Pacific Classic carried 124 pounds according to the weight-for-age conditions in effect.
The sixth consecutive victory and 10th in 12 career starts earned the 4-year-old $300,000 as he surpassed the $12 million mark in career earnings. Maximum Security is best remembered for being disqualified for interference after crossing the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Maximum Security has crossed the finish line first in all but one of his starts, a second-place finish in the 2019 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes, his first race after the Kentucky Derby.
The Pacific Classic was the second race Cedillo rode Maximum Security and the second race Bob Baffert trained the 2019 male 3-year-old Eclipse Award winner for.
Luis Saez rode Maximum Security from the fourth race of his career, the 2019 Kentucky Derby, through the Saudi Cup Feb. 29, but was unavailable for the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap July 25 at Del Mar because of a positive coronavirus test. Saez was replaced by Cedillo, who rode Maximum Security to a victory by a nose over Midcourt.
Maximum Security was transferred to Baffert’s barn after his original trainer, Jason Servis, was indicted March 9 on multiple federal charges related to the administration of performance-enhancing drugs to his stable.
The purse distribution for the Saudi Cup is still pending because of allegations Maximum Security was administered a designer drug, SGF-1000, intended to promote tissue repair and increase a horse’s stamina and endurance.
“Max was relaxing really nice,” Baffert said. “He was a totally different horse today. He (Cedillo) got to know Max last time.
“I’m just so happy for this horse. It’s not his fault what he went through. Today, he showed that he is a great horse.”