DEL MAR, Calif. — Maximum Security won the $500,000 Pacific Classic by three lengths at Del Mar on Saturday, the star-crossed colt’s second victory since moving to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Maximum Security ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.24. He paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 2-5 favorite in the field of six.
It was Baffert’s record-tying sixth win in the Grade 1 race at the seaside track north of San Diego.
“Once he took the lead I figured he’d be fine,” Baffert said. “Max was relaxing really nice. He just does things effortlessly.”
Sharp Samurai returned $5 and $3.60. Midcourt was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show. Defending champion Higher Power finished fourth. Argentina-bred Mirinaque was fifth in his U.S. debut. Dark Vader was last.
Sharp Samurai stuck close to pacesetter Maximum Security, but could not get past him.
“He ran big, but whenever he would get close, my horse would pull away on his own,” Cedillo said. “He still had a little left at the end. I have to say this is probably the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”
With the victory, Maximum Security earned a berth in the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Nov. 7. The 4-year-old bay colt has 10 wins in 12 career starts.
Maximum Security won the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 25 in his first start in five months and first under Baffert’s care. He crossed the wire first in last year’s Kentucky Derby, but was disqualified for interference and placed 17th.
Earlier this year, Maximum Security won the $20 million Saudi Cup – the world’s richest race – only to have his purse money put on hold because of issues with trainer Jason Servis, who is facing charges of using drugs on his horses.
“I’m just so happy for this horse,” Baffert said. “It’s not his fault what he went through. He showed that he is a great horse.”
Gary West bred and owns Maximum Security with his wife Mary and a trio of Europeans.
“I’ve got tears in my eyes,” he said. “I’m so happy. He looked so comfortable out there.”