Maximum Security, the first horse ever to be disqualified from first place in the Kentucky Derby for causing interference, won the first running of the Saudi Cup, the world’s most valuable race.
Twice a winner in Grade 1 company since the Derby last May, Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez finished ahead of Midnight Bisou and Benbatl to win $10 million — half of the race’s $20 million purse.
“It was a very impressive show today,” Saez said. “That’s what the world was waiting for, and we did it. He’s amazing and has a big heart.”
Victory did not look likely for most of the nine-furlong contest at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as Pegasus World Cup hero Mucho Gusto, trained by Bob Baffert, traveled strongly into the lead by a few lengths.
Maximum Security gamely stuck to the task for Saez, but did not seem to be gaining until Mucho Gusto, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., began to wander into his path in the middle of the track on on the homestretch.
Saez ducked Maximum Security behind Mucho Gusto and back to the inside, where the horse sprinted past and held off Midnight Bisou on the inside rail for the win.
“I thought he had it,” Baffert said of Mucho Gusto. “He just got a little short at the end. I think the track was better out in the middle, and Irad was just trying to get there.”
The Jason Servis-trained Maximum Security has also subsequently been bought into by thoroughbred breeder Coolmore, while his original owners, Gary and Mary West, remain involved.
Said Servis: “This has got to be vindication.”