Maximum Security won the Derby by a significant margin on May 4, 2019, before being disqualified after an objection was raised by Country House.
Still, the horse’s improbable rise to the highest level of competition in horse racing is only part of his enthralling story.
Maximum Security was bred and is currently owned by Gary and Mary West; they also own Game Winner, another horse competing in the Kentucky Derby, who they bought for $110,000, according to The Lexington Herald Leader. Maximum Security is trained by Jason Servis, whose brother John won the Kentucky Derby in 2004 with Smarty Jones.
Maximum Security’s jockey is Luis Saez, a reputable jockey with a long history of success.
Here’s what you need to know:
Maximum Security’s Jockey, Luis Saez, Has Over 2,000 Racing Wins to His Name
According to Benzinga, Saez is looking to reach the Winners Circle in the “Run for the Roses” for the first time — but that doesn’t mean he’s a rookie. Saez has over 2,000 racing wins to his name; in 2018; he rode seven winners on one card.
Per his profile on Equibase, Saez boasts career earnings of $101 million as of 2019; he began racing in 2009. As of 2018, he was ranked 9th in the world by wins, and 8th by earnings.
In 2018, after winning his 2,000th race, Saez said, “I give thanks to God for these 2,000 winners. It’s not easy, everybody knows, but we’re here, and thank God we did it…it’s pretty tough but…we done pretty good.”
Saez is originally from Panama.
Maximum Security’s Owners, Gary and May West, Also Own Fellow Kentucky Derby Competitor Game Winner
According to a profile of the Wests in The San Diego Union-Tribune, West is a billionaire philanthropist based in Rancho Santa Fe. And though he has two horses expected to fare well in the Derby, perhaps even win, West isn’t ready to celebrate yet.
To the publication, West said,
“As sort of defense mechanism, I haven’t thought about it being days before the Kentucky Derby with two horses in it. I probably don’t believe it yet. When they load in the starting gate, that’s when it probably will hit me…I’m just hard-wired to disappointment. There are 20 horses in the race, so there’s going to be 19 losers. There’s one happy group and a lot of unhappy people. That’s the nature of the sport.”
West, 73, is unusual for a Derby participant in one specific way: he hates the signature drink for the day, the mint julep. To The San Diego Union-Tribune, he said, “I hate mint juleps. I think mint juleps are one of the worst drinks on Planet Earth. To me, it’s like drinking jet fuel.”
Maximum Security’s Trainer, Jason Servis, Explained Why He Thinks the Horse Is Special
To reporters in the days leading up to the Derby, Servis, the trainer for Maximum Security, said there was one reason in particular that he believed his horse was going to win. “I think one of his best things right now, is he…hasn’t gotten to that point where he’s been last and said, ‘The heck with this stuff. I’m going to feel terrible the next day.’…All he knows is, ‘Here they come, I gotta go.'” Servis added, “Yeah, he doesn’t know any of that…he’s going to lay it out.”
Servis has been with the horse for his entire career, however short. In fact, he was the one who entered him in the $16,000 claimer last December, and admitted he didn’t know how well the horse would end up doing. Per The Lexington Herald Leader, Servis said, “When I put him in, I thought he’d win. I wasn’t expecting a gallop like that. I thought he’d win a maiden $16,000, but I didn’t think he’d win by 10.”
Servis’s brother, John, is also a formidable trainer. But he maintains there’s no rivalry between the two of them. He told reporters that the only gripe he had with his brother was the moment he was mistaken for his father, despite being just a year and a half older than him. He said, “I can’t tell you this one, because I’m still living it down. Somebody came down to (John’s) barn and said, ‘Oh, I met your dad…I’m still fighting that. I told John, ‘Tell that guy to stay out of my barn.’”
Per The San Francisco Chronicle, Servis has given Maximum Security an “unprecedented” training style, training the horse with longer gallops instead of sprint workouts of four to six furlongs. He said per the publication,
“I think it was after his second race that I took him off the rail, so to speak, and started doing the open miles. It’s just a maintaining thing, trying to avoid injuries that would set us back. Maybe in a fast breeze there is more risk than what I’m doing. If he gets beat in the Derby, it won’t be because he’s not fit.”