Much like his recent wins in the Grade 3 Transylvania and Grade 2 American Turf, Mark Bacon and Dana Wells' Silver Max proved too difficult to beat on the front end in Saturday's $125,000 Arlington Classic, the first leg of Arlington Park's Mid-America Triple for three-year-olds on the turf.
Though pulling jockey Shaun Bridgomohan in the opening furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile, Silver Max was left dangerously alone by a margin of 2 1/2 lengths through a quarter in :22 4/5 and a half in :46 3/5 over the firm ground. The margin was cut to 1 1/2 lengths approaching the three-quarter mark as All Stormy and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order began to make their moves, but Silver Max soon put them away after establishing the fraction in 1:11.
Through the stretch, Silver Max built his lead back up to three lengths, and it was a two-length winning margin over Sachem Spirit in the end as the 3-5 favorite completed the course in 1:41 4/5. He returned $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10.
"He's pretty cool little horse," Bridgmohan said. "We got to the front pretty easy and it was all business from there. I was just a good passenger."
Sachem Spirit, the 6-1 second choice, finished a half-length ahead of Najjaar, who rallied from last to finish one length clear of North of Never for third. Completing the order of finish were All Stormy, Monastic, No Spin, Hero of Order, Street Serenade and Slamit.
Runner-up in his first five starts, Silver Max has lost only once in six subsequent outings. After belatedly graduating from maiden company on January 13, the colt returned a little more than two weeks later in the Grade 3 Holy Bull. Over a sloppy main track the son of Badge of Silver struggled in the final furlong, finishing fifth in a field of six.
Returned to the turf for his next start, Silver Max easily captured a starter allowance/optional claimer in wire-to-wire fashion. He did the same again in the Transylvania at Keeneland by 5 1/2 lengths on April 6, and in the American Turf at Churchill Downs by 2 3/4 lengths on May 4. His record now stands at 11-5-5-0, $378,071.
Silver Max, who is trained by Dale Romans, could return for the next two legs of the Mid-America Triple, the Grade 3 American Derby on July 14 and the Grade 1 Secretariat on August 18.
Bred in Kentucky by Steve Snowden, Seth Lauffer and Will Lauffer, Silver Max was a $20,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling. Produced by the Kissin Kris mare Kissin Rene, he is half-brother to stakes winner True Kiss. This is the extended family of Grade 1 winner Yes It's True, Grade 2 winner Kiss a Native, and Grade 3 hero Prince of the Mt.