Photo: Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTO
Well, that changes things …
Maximum security, favorite 1 to 9 of Sunday's $ 150,000 Pegasus Stakes, was pressured and then passed by King for a day at the back of Monmouth Park, marking the first time that the 3-year-old star was not touching the lead first in six starts.
"It sucks at being beaten, but it's horse racing," said coach Jason Servis.
Returning after his disqualification in the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was nervous as he stood at the door, then jumped leaving two out of six. But he nevertheless shot at the front under the jockey Luis Saez.
"I think it cost me the race, really," said Servis. "He was beaten what, a half-length?"
After opening fractions of 23.58 and 46.82 with King of one day Sitting close to its outside, Maximum Safety undergoes a vigorous crossing in the far turn. In the bottom right, he was absent, with King for a Day slightly late on the outside.
It was already a comeback from Direct Order, another Servis trainee, third in Monmouth's local preparation for the July 20 Haskell Invitational Tournament (G1).
"He wanted to break up, so he broke so fast that he stumbled," said Saez about maximum security. "He was fine after that, but I felt that he was a little tired in the last half kilometer."
"I think his next race will be better," added Servis. "I needed to get him out of there."
Meanwhile, the conversation about the nation's best three-year-old will only intensify as second-year students gather for the summer basics, such as Haskell, alongside Jim Dandy (G2) and Travers (G1) of July 27th.
King for a Day, a Red Oak Stable family farmer, trained by Todd Pletcher, won a Preakness Stakes card victory in Sir Barton de Pimlico. Under the leadership of Joe Bravo, he traveled 1 1/16 miles in a time of 1: 42.59.
"My horse did everything comfortably," said Bravo. "It's a big 3-year-old boy who is growing up and really getting in the way."
Anthony Sciametta, the assistant of Pletcher, said that King for a Day "was very well trained" when he accompanied Sir Barton. He went to New York with Pletcher's main channel between races.
"Everyone associated with this horse has been high on him," said Sciametta. "He's a competitive horse, he likes to fight like that."
King for a Day has now won three of five starts and may have been in the conversation with Haskell with consecutive issue scores.
Matt Shifman contributed to this report.