Maximum Security winning the Haskell Invitational (G1) - © Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

Maximum Security winning the Haskell Invitational (G1) – © Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

#1 Maximum Security is undoubtedly the most recognizable name entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park. But that doesn’t mean the son of New Year’s Day is the most likely winner.

Maximum Security has crossed the wire first in six of his seven starts, including a controversial running of the Kentucky Derby (G1), in which he was famously disqualified for causing interference on the far turn. He’s the most accomplished runner in the Bold Ruler field, having utilized his tactical speed to claim victories in the Florida Derby (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1).

But Maximum Security is a 3-year-old facing older rivals for the first time and is cutting back in distance to seven-eighths of a mile. He hasn’t run in three months and missed a scheduled start in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) because of an episode of colic. And perhaps most significantly, he’s drawn the rail in a field packed with fellow speed horses. Chances are Maximum Security will face pace pressure from start to finish, a situation that could favor a stretch-runner with a strong late kick.

There are a couple of appealing candidates to choose from#4 True Timber and #6 Killybegs Captain. Both are versatile runners with the tactical speed necessary to stay in touch with the leaders, but they’ve done their best running when given a quick pace to work with.

True Timber has yet to win a graded stakes race, but finished second in the 2018 Bold Ruler, one start before he charged to secure the runner-up spot in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1). The son of Mineshaft recently returned from a six-month layoff to finish third in the Kelso Handicap (G2), where he vied for the lead. The cutback to seven furlongs and a return to late-running tactics could trigger improvement from this Kiaran McLaughlin-trained 5-year-old.

Killybegs Captain is in career-best form. Two starts back he finished a decent third in the Forego Stakes (G1) at Saratoga behind grade 1 winners Mitole and Firenze Fire. Then he produced a strong rally from behind a fast pace to win the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) at Laurel Park with a 100 Brisnet speed figurenot far off the best numbers posted by Maximum Security.

With the right setup, True Timber and/or Killybegs Captain could make things difficult for probable favorite Maximum Security. Let’s bet them both on top in the exacta, while using Maximum Security for the runner-up spot.

$6 exacta: 4,6 with 1,4,6 ($24)

Good luck!