Rice Pleased That Max Player Will Have ‘More Time To Mature’ Before September Derby
Trainer Linda Rice maintains a bustling barn of 55 horses on the Belmont backstretch and has had a number of stable stars on the work tab over the past week, including Grade 3 Withers champ Max Player.
Owned by George E. Hall, Max Player had been targeting the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino slated for April 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack, before NYRA announced a hold on live racing due to the ongoing worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
The dark bay son of Honor Code worked seven furlongs in 1:27.20 on March 18 on the Belmont training track.
“He worked really well,” said Rice. “We had planned on shooting towards the Wood Memorial and he had been training really nicely into that race.”
The Wood Memorial offers 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers. Rice said the recent announcement moving the 146th renewal of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, to September 5 at Churchill Downs could work in Max Player's favor.
“Frankly, I think it might help us,” said Rice. “It will give him more time to mature. We didn't get him started until December of his 2-year-old year, so I really think that's going to work in our favor.”
Max Player graduated impressively on December 17 at second asking in a Parx maiden tilt contested on a sloppy track. The talented colt demonstrated an impressive turn of foot in the nine-furlong Withers to run down Grade 2 Remsen-winner Shotski for a 3 1/4-length score.
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