Trainer weighing whether Maximum Security races this weekend

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — The trainer of Maximum Security plans to decide Thursday whether the colt will race this weekend in his first start since finishing first in the Kentucky Derby and being disqualified.

Jason Servis was uncertain Wednesday whether to run Maximum Security on Sunday in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. The $150,000 race for 3-year-olds will be run over 1 1/16 miles.

Servis said recent bloodwork on Maximum Security showed no problems, but he felt the colt was still a little light in terms of weight. Servis had ordered the bloodwork after thinking that the colt was a little off during a workout Sunday.

“It’s a tough decision. It really is,” he said. “The bloodwork threw a wrench into everything because it was good. If it was bad, it would be easy.”

The trainer said Maximum Security galloped 1 1/8 miles on Wednesday and looked fit.

The current plan is to race Maximum Security in the Pegasus and the Haskell on July 20, both at Monmouth Park. The colt would then be shipped to Saratoga Springs, New York, for the Travers Stakes on Aug. 24.

Maximum Security initially scored a 1-length victory over Country House in the Kentucky Derby on May 2. The victory was overturned 22 minutes later with a stunning decision by the stewards to disqualify the 9-2 second choice because of interference with eventual Preakness winner War of Will and other horses.

It marked the first time in the 145-year history of the Derby that the first-place finisher was disqualified for interference.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.