At this point not many are disputing that Maximum Security is the leading 3-year-old Thoroughbred in North America.
Never mind how Maximum Security was disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after he caused interference on the far turn. While this unfortunate event technically put a damper on Maximum Security’s résumé, he still has triumphs in the Florida Derby (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1) on his record, which makes him the only sophomore colt with two grade 1 wins.
But the race for the division championship is far from over. Prestigious events like the Travers Stakes (G1), Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) still remain. To secure the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male, Maximum Security will likely need to keep running (and winning).
Which other 3-year-olds could potentially make a run at the championship title? Here are six challengers who shouldn’t be counted out of the mix.
Mr. Money has put together quite a win streak against easier company, with dominating wins in the Pat Day Mile (G3), Matt Winn Stakes (G3), Indiana Derby (G3) and West Virginia Derby (G3). With recent Beyer speed figures of 96, 99, 100 and 99, he’s fast enough to give Maximum Security a challenge and could potentially face the division leader in the Pennsylvania Derby next month.
The champion 2-year-old male of 2018 recently returned to the winner’s circle with a clear-cut victory in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3). Game Winner wore blinkers at Los Alamitos, an equipment change that could sharpen his speed for the upcoming Travers at Saratoga. A victory in the “Mid-summer Derby” would help erase memories of Game Winner’s defeat in the Kentucky Derby, where a slow start and an impossibly wide trip left him without a realistic shot at winning.
Tacitus has compiled an admirable record this year despite some challenging circumstances. The winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2), Tacitus overreacted to muddy kickback when finishing third in the Kentucky Derby, raced wide on his way to second place in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and stumbled badly at the start of the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) before he rallied for the runner-up spot. Give this son of Tapit a clean trip, perhaps in the Travers, and he might rebound all the way to the winner’s circle.
Omaha Beach was the division leader and Kentucky Derby favorite following victories in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1), but an entrapped epiglottis sidelined him from the Triple Crown series. Fortunately this talented colt is back on the work tab at Del Mar and could be a serious threat to Maximum Security if he picks up where he left off. The August 25 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar could mark his return to action.
War of Will
With victories in the Preakness Stakes (G1), Risen Star Stakes (G2) and Lecomte Stakes (G3), War of Will arguably has a better overall résumé than Maximum Security. His classic victory in the Preakness is a major feather in his cap, but after he finished off the board in the Belmont and Jim Dandy, War of Will might face an uphill battle to regain his best form and challenge for the championship.
He’s fallen off the radar a bit, but Owendale didn’t run poorly when he finished third in the Preakness, an effort sandwiched between victories in the Lexington Stakes (G3) and Ohio Derby (G3). He’s been training steadily at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Travers Stakes, and an upset victory at Saratoga would place him firmly in the hunt for championship honors.