Things aren’t going as planned for Maximum Security or Country House. These are the equine combatants at the center of this year’s Kentucky Derby controversy. New contenders, such as Mr. Money, Mucho Gusto and King for a Day, are now clearly ready to take advantage of the upheaval in Thoroughbred racing’s three-year-old division.
Country House is the horse history records as the Kentucky Derby winner. That’s because, before the race became official, stewards were deciding Maximum Security failed to maintain a straight path in the US’s most important race and must be placed 17th because of interference. Trainer Bill Mott says Country House is now heading for a 60-day freshening. The official Derby winner is not responding to an increasing training regimen after becoming sick soon after the first Saturday in May.
Mott is indicating Country House is likely done for the rest of the year. That includes the 2019 Breeders’ Cup in November at Santa Anita.
Uneasy Head Wearing Crown
Maximum Security is thought by many to be the nation’s best three-year-old still in training, but clearly disappointing as the 1/9 public choice Sunday in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes Sunday at Monmouth Park.
The first under the wire horse in the Derby was restless loading into the gate, lunging and stumbling leaving and although recovering quickly to lead most of the way, could not sustain in the final 75 yards before the finish. The Pegasus winner is Todd Pletcher’s King for a Day, stalking Maximum Security throughout before heading the 1/9 favorite right before the wire.
Joe Bravo rode the 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo. King for a Day, 5/1 in the Pegasus, is a perfect two-for-two in 2019, bolstering a record that includes a victory in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico.
The Pegasus serves as a prep race for Monmouth Park’s three-year-old foundation race, the $1 million Haskell Stakes on July 20 at the Jersey Shore track.
“It stinks getting beat but that’s horse racing I think (the stumble) cost me the race, really,” Maximum Security trainer Jason Servis said after the race. “I got beat, what – half a length? Tough day. His next race will be better … I was glad to get this out of the way even though he got beat by a nice horse. It was a tough week. He was feeling good this morning … jumping and kicking. The stumble hurt us a lot.”
For the complete chart of the Pegasus, click here.
Mucho Gusto and Mr. Money Step it Up
Also Sunday at Santa Anita, just as observant handicappers were anticipating, Bob Baffert’s highly thought of Kentucky Derby entrant Roadster, right now, is no match for up-and-comer Mucho Gusto. Both are Baffert trainees squaring off in the $100,000 Affirmed Stakes. Mucho Gusto, under jockey Joe Talamo, showing fortitude in the stretch, clearly dispatching heavy favorite Roadster, who, while finishing second for rider Mike Smith, never truly threatened the winner.
For the complete chart of the Affirmed Stakes, click here.
The most impressive three-year-old this weekend may well have been Mr. Money, blitzing the field Saturday night at Churchill Downs in the Matt Winn Stakes as the 3/5 public choice. He did not run in the Kentucky Derby, lacking sufficient qualifying points to make the gate. His conditioner is Brett Calhoun. Mr. Money is likely heading north for his next appearance believed to be at at Indiana Grand for the $500,000 Indiana Derby on July 13 or at Monmouth Park for the $1 million Haskell on July 20. A Mr. Money vs. Mucho Gusto vs. Maximum Security in the Haskell could make the race a highlight of the summer. Baffert has won the Haskell a record eight times.
Click here for a full chart of the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs.