HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Maximum Security was in a claiming race just over three months ago, which meant his connections were willing to let him go to another barn at that point for a mere US$16,000. There were no takers.
Oh, how they might have missed out. Maximum Security has risen from racing's minor leagues to a berth in the Kentucky Derby.
Maximum Security is no claimer anymore, now unbeaten in four career starts and the winner of the Grade 1, US$1 million Florida Derby. He bolted from the gate and never got caught Saturday, going wire-to-wire for a 3 1/2-length victory at Gulfstream Park and a spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
Instead, the surprises were how easily Maximum Security got to the lead — and how easily he stayed there. Servis and jockey Luis Saez had gone over a whole slew of game plans. Turns out, none of them were necessary. The horse just took over.
Maximum Security hit the wire ahead of 70-1 long-shot Bodexpress — a maiden who likely has enough points now to get to the Kentucky Derby as well. The Florida Derby doles out 100 points to the winner, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth, and there's almost no scenario where 40 points wouldn't be enough to earn a berth.
Code of Honor, the Fountain of Youth winner who was already assured of a trip to Churchill Downs to start the Triple Crown season, was third.
Favoured Hidden Scroll, who needed likely a top-two finish to get into the Kentucky Derby, managed to only finish sixth.