Maximum Security Withdrawn from Pennsylvania Derby
-By Tim Wilkin
Maximum Security, the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 40th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing, will not run. Trainer Jason Servis announced Tuesday that the colt will miss the race because of an issue with his colon.
“He was doing great,” Servis said. “I was really looking forward to running him.”
Servis said Maximum Security was diagnosed with a large colon nephrosplenic entrapment following a workout at Parx Monday morning. Maximum Security worked at Parx and was vanned back to Servis’ home base at Monmouth Park. Servis was called back to the barn Monday afternoon because something was wrong with the horse.
The entrapment occurs when a portion of the horse’s colon turns and becomes stuck over the ligament that connects the horse’s left kidney and spleen along the left side off the body cavity. The condition is not expected to be career ending.
Servis said that Maximum Security is back at his barn at Monmouth following his brief stay at the Mid-Atlantic Equine Clinic in Ringoes, N.J.
“He’s wiped out,” Servis said. “I feel bad. It’s just unfortunate. The good thing is that he didn’t need surgery. It was a no-brainer (not running in the Pennsylvania Derby). The Wests (owners Gary and Mary) have always been about the horse. The race was a Grade 1, that was the most important thing. The money was secondary.”
Maximum Security has won five of seven career starts, the most recent being the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park July 20. He also crossed the finish first in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs but became the first winner in the 145-year history of the race to be disqualified because of an incident during the race.
Maximum Security also won the Grade 1 Florida Derby this year.
The defection of Maximum Security leaves the Pennsylvania Derby, which will be televised on NBC from 5-6 p.m. EDT, with a field of six.
“That is horrible, you hate to see that,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is sending Improbable from California to run in the Pennsylvania Derby. “As a trainer, you never wish anybody any bad luck. I just hope he is all right and it’s nothing serious. He was definitely the horse to beat.”
Improbable was the 3-1 second choice in the original morning line and now goes as the 8-5 favorite on the revised line released by Parx Racing oddsmaker John DaSilva Monday afternoon. The full field, with revised morning-line odds: Math Wizard (6-1), Improbable (8-5), Shanghai Superfly (30-1), War of Will (4-1), Spun to Run (8-1) and Mr. Money (2-1).
The Pennsylvania Derby would have been the first time Maximum Security and War of Will, the two horses at the center of the Kentucky Derby controversy, had met since that race. War of Will was trying to come off the rail approaching the top of the stretch in the Derby and was impeded by Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez, who came out several paths.
“They are animals, not machines,” said Mark Casse, War of Will’s trainer. “Too many times, people believe they go out and just go around there. It doesn’t work that way. They get sick. They don’t feel good. Just like us.”
The Pennsylvania Derby is the centerpiece of Saturday’s 13-race card. The card also includes the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
“I mean, he’s the Derby winner … unofficially,” Baffert said. “People wanted to see a true race horse. It’s on TV. It’s a big deal. I never get excited until I put the saddle on them. I just feel real bad for the connections.”