Todd Pletcher has King for a Day primed to compete with the Jason Servis-trained Maximum Security to finish first at the 2019 Haskell Invitational Stakes on Saturday.
John Velazquez will be in the saddle of King for a Day, and oddsmakers are finding it tough to separate Pletcher's colt from Maximum Security. The latter is running from the seventh and final post position, but Servis has expressed concerns about how his horse will handle the track at New Jersey's Monmouth Park.
Servis had better hope Maximum Security is better equipped to run on the surface as a three-year old. After all, the lion's share of the $1 million prize money awaits the winner.
Date: Saturday, July 20
Time: 5:45 p.m. ET, 12:45 p.m. BST
TV Info: NBC
Live Stream: NBC Sport App
Post Positions and Odds
1. King for a Day: 7-2
2. Joevia: 12-1
3. Spun to Run: 33-1
4. Bethlehem Road: 66-1
5. Mucho Gusto: 9-2
6. Everfast: 18-1
7. Maximum Security: 10-11
Odds per Oddschecker.
Servis said Maximum Security "wasn't showing anything" when he trained as a two-year-old in Oceanport, New Jersey, 12 months ago, per Steven Falk of the Asbury Park Press. Falk also noted how Maximum Security has been "stabled at Monmouth since May 7."
Regardless of the surface, Servis and jockey Luis Saez will be keen to make a statement following the controversy at this year's Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security was disqualified after crossing the line first at Churchill Downs when it was judged the horse had strayed from his lane and caused a collision between War of Will and Country House, who was later granted the win.
King for a Day will hope there's no need to rely on such controversy. Velazquez and Pletcher can be confident, having seen this colt get the better of Maximum Security during the TVG.com Pegasus in June.
Things are looking good for a horse proving its worth during training runs. Red Oak Stable racing manager Rick Sacco told BloodHorse that King for a Day looked strong and fast during final works: "It was a maintenance work, but he was in the bridle strong and [jockey John Velazquez] never moved on him."
There is a reason this horse is drawing so much buzz among oddsmakers. He was swift enough to leave the rest of the field trailing during the Sir Barton Stakes at Preakness in May.
Using the speed to press Maximum Security won't be easy given the posts the two will occupy. While his pace will be tested by the 1 and ⅛-mile Monmouth Park track, if King for a Day builds a strong-enough lead early on, the rest won't be able to catch up.