International News

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Maximum Security stays undefeated in Florida Derby score

A colt who could have been claimed for only US$16,000 three months ago, Maximum Security (USA) (New Year’s Day {USA}) punched his ticket to the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on Saturday.

Winning his three career starts by a combined margin of 34 ½ lengths, the step up to Group 1 company after never running in stakes company previously paid off. The colt went straight to the lead and galloped with his ears pricked in the 1800 metre race without any real pressure from the field. As they turned into the stretch, he was already pulling away from second placed Bodexpress (USA) (Bodemeister {USA}) and won easily by 3 ½ lengths.

Bodexpress finished second at odds of 71-1 while Code Of Honor (USA) (Noble Mission {GB}) finished third after showing some greenness in the stretch. While this was Maximum Security’s only run on the Kentucky Derby trail, it is all he needed to get into the Derby.

The colt earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which should be more than enough to get him in the race. If he goes to the Kentucky Derby, he’ll be the second horse in the race for Gary And Mary West, who also own Game Winner.

“I really wasn’t (confident). I didn’t really know what to expect,” trainer Jason Servis told Thoroughbred Daily News. “He’s been beating up on lesser horses. I think the last race was a six-horse field maybe, so the jury was still out. If he had run sixth, would I have been surprised? No. I thought Luis [Saez] did a great job of getting out there and backing it up.”

The colt was the second major classic prep win of the day for the late Street Cry (Ire) (Machiavellian {USA}) as a grandsire with his son Street Sense (USA) siring the Gulfstream Park Oaks winner.

Champagne Anyone earns Oaks ticket at Gulfstream

Street Sense’s (USA) (Street Cry {Ire}) Champagne Anyone relished an equipment change in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on Saturday when registering her first stakes victory.

Third in her last two starts, trainer Ian Wilkes added blinkers to make the filly more amenable to her jockey’s cues. It worked well with Champagne Anyone second to Cookie Dough (USA) (Brethren {USA}) during the early stages of the run before taking the lead as the field came into the straight.

Dunbar Roar (USA) (Quality Road {USA}) made a big run at the lead near the line but wasn’t able to get there in time and settled for second with Cookie Dough in third. Champagne Anyone earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Oaks in the win, guaranteeing her a spot in the starting gate.

“(The Kentucky Oaks) has been our whole goal,” Wilkes told Thoroughbred Daily News. “We made the plan–we went in the Golden Rod last year to get experience and came back and start at seven-eighths, a mile, a mile and a sixteenth. I felt the filly needed racing. She’s a filly that’s still learning. If I ran her once, twice, she wouldn’t be ready for the Oaks, that’s why I felt I had to get more racing, more miles, more racing into her.”

Street Sense shuttled to Australia from 2008 to 2012 and has sired 11 stakes winners from those crops, including four Group 1 winners.

Ohio prevails in return of Santa Anita racing

In the first Grade 1 race run after Santa Anita returned to racing on Friday, Ohio (Brz) (Elusive Quality {USA}) notched his first Grade 1 victory in his third start of the year when winning the Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf.

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Bruce Treitman, who claimed him for US$50,000 last June, he was close to the pace throughout the running after giving up the lead soon after the break. After galloping comfortably just off the pace, the gelding reclaimed that lead as the field rounded the far turn. He looked like he was clear to start pulling away from there with much of the field yielding to him in the straight, but Catapult (USA) (Kitten’s Joy {USA}) was the exception.

Once Catapult had a clear path, he locked on to Ohio and gained on him with every stride. It came down to the timing of the bob of a head with Ohio just winning the photo. It was another close finish for third with Desert Stone (Ire) (Fastnet Rock) just noising out River Boyne (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}) for that position in an exciting renewal of the race.

The victory was jockey Ruben Fuentes’ first ride and win in a Grade 1 race

“Turning for home, I moved my hands down on him and he gave me a quick turn. After that, I knew I had it and he was gone. Then, I saw a horse on the outside and he saw him too. As soon as he saw him, he fought back and he just got his head right at the wire. It’s great (winning his first Grade 1). It’s the best feeling in the world,” Fuentes said.

Secret Spice wins first stakes in Beholder

Secret Spice (USA) (Discreet Cat {USA}) made a major splash in the second of two Grade 1s on the Santa Anita card when she earned her first stakes victory in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile against a tough field.

Siting on the rail close behind the leader, Secret Spice looked as if she may be fading with 400 metres left to go but the mare used the opportunity to swing to the outside so she wouldn’t be trapped on the rail. That move paid off when she took command of the race at the top of the straight and won easily over Grade 1 winners Marley’s Freedom (USA) (Blame {USA}) and Paradise Woods (USA) (Union Rags {USA}).

Secret Spice (Benoit Photo)

“Marley’s Freedom is a great horse,” said Secret Spice’s trainer Richard Baltas. “It was our day today and we’ll take it. She put it all together today. I told her owners if you want to win a Grade I you are going to have to be patient and wait, she just put it all together, it was our day today.”

Secret Spice is from a half-sister to the dam of Medaglia d’Oro’s (USA) (El Prado {Ire}) champion daughter Wonder Gadot and from the extended family of South African stakes winners and Group 1 performers Liquid Mercury (SAF) (Trippi {USA}) and Captain Gambler (SAD) (Captain Al {SAF}).

Sergei Prokofiev a promising sprinter

Sergei Prokofiev (Can) (Scat Daddy {USA}) provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with his first Irish stakes winner of the season on Saturday when winning the Listed Cork Stakes at Navan.

A Group 3 winner last year, the 3-year-old was stepping up to a new level of competition when taking on older horses for the first time.

Running in the back of a tightly packed field, jockey Donnacha O’Brien convinced his mount to settle before swinging him to the outside. O’Brien looked confident in his mount in the final 300 metres as he got down to the business of taking the lead. He had just won the battle against 6-year-old Smash Williams (Ire) (Fracas {Ire}) for the lead when he had to fend off another rival in 5-year-old Chessman (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) in the final strides.

The victory was the fourth career win for the $1.1 million Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate and third stakes win.