Maximum Security, Math Wizard December maiden claiming race emerges as ultimate key race

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Noel Michaels

September 24th, 2019

Sometimes you don’t need to be a math wizard to know a good maiden claiming race when you see one.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of races for three-year-olds have been run in North America since the completion of Race 10 at Gulfstream Park on Thursday, December 20, but none have proven more productive than a $16,000 maiden claiming race at 6 ½-furlongs on the main track for soon-to-be three-year-olds.

Maximum Security won the maiden claimer at Gulfstream on December 20 in his first career start. He escaped being claimed that day and went on to win the Florida Derby (G1) and cross the finish line first as much the best in the Kentucky Derby before being DQ’d. The Jason Servis-trained colt posted yet another Grade 1 win in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth and is considered to be the top three-year-old of 2019 by many observers.

JOHNSON: Maximum Security survives inquiry in Haskell Invitational

It is rare for a horse who raced as a maiden claimer to become a Grade 1 winner, but now it has happened again. And not only has it happened again, it has happened to another horse from the same race – Race 10 at Gulfstream on December 20.

A Maiden Claiming Key

Maximum Security won by 9 ¾ lengths and the third-place horse, beaten 10 ¾ lengths, was none other than Math Wizard, who earned his first Grade 1 victory with an upset in the Pennsylvania Derby.  That means the aforementioned maiden claiming race now owns the rare (and possibly unparalleled) distinction of producing two Grade 1 winners.

HANSON: Math Wizard stuns Pennsylvania Derby at 31-1

Unlike Maximum Security, Math Wizard was claimed from the race by trainer Antonio Sano from trainer Daniel Sanner. Entered right back in a $16,000 maiden claiming race on January 6, Math Wizard got claimed again, this time by Paul Kopaj, from a 6 3/4-length win. Math Wizard came right back in the claiming ranks and was claimed yet again for $25,000 from an 18-length score by current trainer Jospeh A. Saffie Jr. for owner John Fanelli.

Math Wizard has never raced for a claiming tag again.

Math Wizard had not won since the last foray in the claiming ranks until the Pennsylvania Derby, but he had bankrolled more than $200,000 for new connections by recording a runner-up in the Ohio Derby (G3), a third in the Indiana Derby (G3) and a fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2). Add another $600,000 for the Pennsylvania Derby. You don’t need to be a math wizard to see that the former $16,000 maiden claimer has now won more than $850,000 as a three-year-old.

What are the chances of the December 20 maiden claimer at Gulfstream producing another Grade 1 winner? 

The odds of that happening are even higher than the long odds the race has already surpassed.

Guerreron, the runner-up finisher in both Maximum Security’s and Match Wizard’s maiden claiming wins, has gone on to graduate, but his career has failed to take off since then. Currently trained by Kathleen O’Connell, Guerreron owns a 1-3-3 record from 14 starts and earnings of $40,410. His career arc has been much more typical for a former maiden claimer.