BERNARD BARUCH HANDICAP | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES (TURF)
Silver Max ran legitimate fractions early and had plenty left to finish up late in the $245,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap Aug. 31 at Saratoga Race Course, streaking wire-to-wire over yielding ground for his second graded-stakes score in a row.
The 4-year-old son of Badge of Silver came off an easy 5 ¾-length victory in the July 28 Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth Park to get the job done once again for owners Mark Bacon and Dana Wells. It was his third win of 2013; he also took an off-the-turf edition of the June 1 Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs. Between victories Silver Max tried dirt again to run third in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap.
Dale Romans conditions Silver Max, who had Robby Albarado in the irons while toting high weight of 120 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch for 3-year-olds and up. Earlier in the week, Romans said he believed the colt could become one of the leading runners in the country.
"I still feel the same way," Romans said in the winner's circle after Silver Max ran the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:42.31. "Last year, I might have overdone it with him. I ran him a lot of times in those 3-year-old races. He was a little tired at the end of the year. He's coming into the summer and fall a lot more fresh, and I think he could be, by the end of the year, one of the best turf horses around."
Favored at 9-10 in a field of five, Silver Max quickly ranged up to take the lead for an opening quarter in :23.88 over the boggy going. Tetradrachm applied early pressure for an honest half in :47.34, but Silver Max turned back his challenge and headed for home after three-quarters in 1:11.12.
Paris Vegas made a move to challenge coming off the turn, but Silver Max kicked into second gear. Running a mile in 1:35.79, he drew off by two lengths in a final time of 1:42.31.
"They made him work a lot more today than I thought he would," Romans said. "If you had told me he was going to go that fast for the first half, I'd say he'd be 15 lengths in front. They made him run for it."
Jockey Robby Albarado said Silver Max doesn't require assistance to get going.
"I try to be a quiet and patient passenger on him and let him do all the work," Albarado said. "They came to me a little earlier than I anticipated, at about the half-mile pole. But he's just got such a high cruising speed, and he holds it."
Paris Vegas held for second, while Tetradrachm finished 6 ¼ lengths behind him in third. Turallure and So Long George completed the order of finish; Willyconker and Za Approval scratched.
The winner paid $3.80, $3, and $2.20. Paris Vegas returned $6.40 and $3.50. Tetradrachm paid $2.80.
Last year, Silver Max won seven races including his maiden score. He took the Transylvania Stakesat Keeneland and the American Turf at Churchill, went a stakes record 1:41.87 in the Arlington Classic at Arlington Park, took the Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs by 6 ¾ lengths, and won the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs for his sixth consecutive triumph on the lawn.
The Bernard Baruch victory improved his record to 10-5-1 from 21 starts, with earnings of $1,208,403.
Bred in Kentucky by Steve C. Snowden, Seth Lauffer, and Will Lauffer out of the Kissin Kris mare Kissin Rene, Silver Max was purchased by Romans for $20,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2010 select yearling sale.