A madcap Triple Crown campaign ended with Sir Winston’s surprise victory in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday afternoon. The three big races yielded three different winners, a huge amount of controversy and no real consensus as to the identity of the best three-year-old in America right now.
Maximum Security appeared to have won the Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified and see victory handed to second-placed 65/1 shot Country House. He has not seen action since, yet he has a legitimate claim to be named the three-year-old leader as we approach the second half of the season.
Country House skipped the Preakness due to a cough and he has also not raced since the Kentucky Derby. Since then, Canadian trainer Mark Casse has come to the fore. War of Will, the horse most impacted by Maximum Security in the incident that led to his disqualification, enjoyed a beautiful trip up the rail to land the Preakness. He was tipped to win the Belmont too, but stablemate Sir Winston – winless in four races this year – seized the day thanks to a strong ride from Joel Rosario.
It leaves the three-year-old division wide open ahead of the three remaining Grade 1 races – the Haskell, Travers and Pennsylvania Derby – and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will crown a champion. A BetOnline review shows you what to expect from a leading racebook and you will find competitive odds on these big races. There will not be an overwhelming favorite, but there is a case to be made for Maximum Security being the leading light in the second half of the three-year-old season.
He has finished first in all five of his races, and he has on official 4-for-5 record after he was stripped of the Kentucky Derby. That result, the first qualification in 144 years, was so controversial that even the President weighed in on it. “The Kentucky Derby decision was not a good one,” he tweeted. “It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close!”
Maximum Security’s best Beyer Speed Figure is 102 and he recorded a 101 when romping to victory in the Florida Derby and during his eye-catching performance at the Kentucky Derby. War of Will is 3-for-6 this year and 4-for-11 in his career, while he finished seventh in the Derby and ninth in the Belmont, with fatigue probably an issue. His best Beyer Speed Figure is 99 in the Preakness, while Country Star could only get up to 99 in the Derby. Sir Winston only reached 95 when winning the Belmont, although he did record 100 in the Peter Pan.
Omaha Beach is a bit of a wildcard, as he went up to 101 in the Arkansas Derby and he is 3-for-4 this year. Yet it is hard to argue with the notion that Maximum Security has looked like the classiest three-year-old in the business this season. It is close, and there is no proper consensus, but he could cement his superiority over his peers by finishing the season in strong form. He is the only three-year-old to cross the wire first in all of his races, and he has three Beyers north of 100, showing that he is the quickest three-year-old of the current crop. It will, therefore, be interesting to see how he gets on in the big races that remain this season. Trainer Jason Servis wants to have some blood work done, but if he is fit then he will take some stopping at the Haskell.