Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

King for a Day Stuns Maximum Security in Pegasus

King For a Day takes the Pegasus Stakes over Maximum Security at Monmouth Park

King For a Day takes the Pegasus Stakes over Maximum Security at Monmouth Park

Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO

·      By Bob Ehalt 

Some six weeks after being disqualified from first in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), Gary and Mary West's Maximum Security was defeated in a more conventional manner June 16 at Monmouth Park.

Dropped from first to 17th for interference in the Kentucky Derby, the homebred son of New Year's Day suffered his first clear defeat in the Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds as Red Oak Stable's King for a Dayhounded him throughout and then edged clear in the final sixteenth-of-a-mile to post a length victory over the 1-20 favorite.

"It stinks getting beat, but it's horse racing," said Jason Servis, who trains Maximum Security.

Maximum Security stumbled at the start, but still grabbed the lead along the rail in the 1 1/16-mile stakes, with King for a Day about a half-length behind him, through six furlongs in fractions of :23.58, :46.82 and 1:10.57. 

Maximum Security led by a half-length at the eighth pole but could not withstand a final surge from King for a Day, who was coming off a win in the May 18 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico Race Course for trainer Todd Pletcher in his 2019 debut.

"I think the stumble cost me the race," said Servis, who did not make a final decision to run Maximum Security until shortly before the June 14 post position draw. "I think his next race will be better."

The July 20 Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park has been targeted as Maximum Security's next start.

"He hasn't run for a while so he was a little desperate in the gate," jockey Luis Saez said about Maximum Security. "He wanted to break so he broke so fast he stumbled. He was all right after that but I sensed he was getting a little tired in the final half-mile. When we came to the half-mile pole, I asked for a little more but he got a little tired when I asked him to keep going. In the end he was a little tired. I'm not disappointed. Definitely not. He will be OK. I think he needed the race. This is horse racing. Anything can happen. He's a real good horse. That hasn't changed. I think the next time he will be OK."  

The final time over the fast track was 1:42.59.

M and A Racing's Direct Order, who is also trained by Servis, finished 5 3/4 lengths behind Maximum Security in third.

For owner Steve Brunetti of Red Oak Stable, the  Father's Day victory was highly emotional as it came about 15 months after his father, longtime Hialeah Park owner John Brunetti, passed away.

"Todd was extremely confident and it seems every move we've made with Todd throughout the years in a big race has proven to be very satisfactory. I just put my trust in him," Brunetti said about the victory by his homebred son of Uncle Mo . "It's Monmouth Park, it's Father's Day and I thought maybe in some strange way it was meant to be. It was. I'm very humbled. This means so much. I just wish my dad was here to enjoy horses like King for a Day and (grade 1 winner) Mind Control."

King for a Day is out of the French Deputy mare Ubetwereven and his victory, the third in five career starts, made Brunetti even happier that he decided to send some of his mares to Uncle Mo a few years ago.

"I got lucky. I bred a few mares to Uncle Mo when he was $20-25,000 (stud fee)," he said. "I'm reaping the rewards now."

King for a Day, ridden by Joe Bravo, paid $13.80 to win as the second choice in the field of six.

"I liked how his paper looked," Bravo said. "The horse has been coming into his own. I texted Todd Pletcher this week and he called me back in two seconds to tell me how high he was on this horse. He was in full control the whole race. Maximum Security stumbled the first couple of jumps and I am sure that hurt him a little bit and he was playing catch-up the rest of the time—even though he was in front until we got to him late. I just tried to keep my horse relaxed and ride my horse. He was good when he needed to be."

King for a Day's victory also added even more chaos to a muddled 3-year-old picture. Heading into the Pegasus, the Triple Crown had featured three different winners of a classic plus a fourth horse in Maximum Security, who was disqualified from first in the Kentucky Derby and did not race again until Sunday.

Having beaten a horse who crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths and also captured the Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) by 3 1/2 lengths, King for a Day earned inclusion among the division's leaders.

"Last year we heard how well he was training at (Saratoga Race Course) and Todd thought he was the best 2-year-old in the barn," Brunetti said. "But he had a slight setback (after finishing fourth in the grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in his 2-year-old finale) and we had to miss the classics."

The Haskell seems as good a starting point as any for King for a Day to collect a grade 1 win, but Red Oak racing manager Rick Sacco was in no rush to talk about the next start.

"We have a 72-hour rule at Red Oak before we talk about the next race," Sacco said. "We're going to enjoy this performance to the fullest and then think about the Haskell and the Travers."

For Pletcher, there was satisfaction in the group decision to run in the Pegasus, when King for a Day was sharp and eager to race, as opposed to waiting for the Ohio Derby (G3) or the Indiana Derby (G3), both of which carry a purse of $500,000. 

"We're really proud of him. He found a little more late today and I think he'll enjoy even more distance. He had been training very well. After the Sir Barton, we mentioned this as a possibility, but we were looking at the (June 22) Ohio Derby or (July 13) Indiana Derby. But after he worked last week, I didn't know if we could hold him on the ground much longer, so we chatted and felt this was a good option for him," Pletcher said. "It's a wide-open division at this point and a lot will be decided in the summer and fall. It's nice to be in that picture with him."

Copyright © 2005 Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables. All rights reserved.
Site Design by Hammond Communications Group, Inc. Primary Photography: Barbara D. Livingston