Maximum Security leads field of 7 in Haskell Invitational

OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) — Maximum Security will make his second start since being disqualified in the Kentucky Derby, taking on six rivals in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

The Jason Servis-trained colt drew the outside No. 7 post Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile race. Luis Saez is listed to ride the 8-5 early favorite, who was the first horse to be disqualified for interference in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby.

While the Haskell field is small, Maximum Security will face stiff competition and a lot of speed.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has sent two-time Grade 3 stakes winner Mucho Gusto in from the West Coast. Baffert will be seeking his ninth win in this race.

King for a Day, who beat Maximum Security by a length here last month in the Pegasus Stakes, also is entered. Joevia, the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, and Everfast, the Preakness runner-up, were entered, too, along with long shots Bethlehem Road and Spun to Run.

“No pressure,” Servis quipped after the draw.

The 3-year-old division has no clear front-runner.

In most years, the Kentucky Derby winner is at the top of the class. This year is different because of the Derby disqualification.

Long shot Country House was declared the winner of the opening jewel of the Triple Crown and has not raced since. War of Will, whom Maximum Security bothered in the Derby, won the Preakness. Sir Winston captured the Belmont.

If Maximum Security wins Saturday’s race, he will be the only 3-year-old colt with two Grade 1 victories this year, having captured the Florida Derby in March.

“There are a lot of good trainers and a lot of good horses,” Servis said. “Guys keep asking me about speed, speed, speed. We ran against 19 in the Derby. We are not going to be afraid of going against six.”

Gary and Mary West, the owners of Maximum Security, have filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Kentucky against the state Horse Racing Commission and race stewards, seeking to reverse the horse’s disqualification and to restore their share of the purse money. Both sides have asked the court for summary judgments.

Baffert, whose eight Haskell wins are the record for trainers, said Maximum Security is the class of the field. However, Mucho Gusto is coming off two impressive wins in California, including one in the Affirmed on June 16 in which he rated well and closed to win.

Mucho Gusto was made the 2-1 second choice. Regular rider Joe Talamo will break the colt from the No. 5 position.

King for a Day is the 5-2 third choice for trainer Todd Pletcher. John Velazquez will ride this time, replacing Joe Brave, who filled in for him in the Pegasus. The drawback is the colt drew the No. 1 post, which means he will probably have to go right to the lead.

Joevia has the No. 2 post for jockey Jose Lezcano. The Greg Sacco-trained colt is 10-1.

The rest of the field in post-position order with jockey and odds is:

Spun to Run, Paco Lopez, 15; Bethlehem Road, Luis Castro Rodriguez, 20; Mucho Gusto; Everfast, Julien Leparoux, 10; and Maximum Security.

Post time is scheduled for 5:47 p.m. EDT. The race will be televised by NBC.

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