Preakness Profile: Max Player
In the days leading up to Saturday’s 145th Preakness, usracing.com will be publishing profiles of the 11 horses entered in 2020’s final leg of the Triple Crown.
By Ed McNamara
Max Player is a grinder without a turn of foot, and deep closers without a burst of acceleration don’t win the Preakness. His fifth-place finish in the Derby was his first out-of-the-money performance in six career starts. Stamina and consistency are his strengths. He ran third in the Belmont and Travers, but he was beaten a total of 12¾ lengths and never looked like he could win either.
Salute him for his durability, though. He’ll be the only horse to compete in all three races of a Triple Crown extended to an unprecedented 15 weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If he gets a hot pace, Max Player might be able to pass tired rivals and clunk up for third, at best. A must-use underneath in trifectas and superfectas, but definitely not a contender to win.
Post position: No. 8
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owners: George Hall, Sportbix Thoroughbreds
Career record: 6-2-1-2
Career earnings: $463,500
Top Equibase speed figure: 105
Pedigree: Honor Code-Fools in Love, by Not for Love
Color: Dark bay
Running style: Closer
Notes: Max Player’s lead owner and breeder, George Hall, won the 2011 Belmont with long shot Ruler on Ice at the track not far from where he grew up. As a kid he was a paperboy for Newsday, so his horse made headlines in the journal he once delivered. How many people can say that? … This will be Hall’s first Preakness, and like all owners taking a shot in a classic, he’s upbeat. “If we can get a little better trip out of the gate and not fall so far behind and give him so much work to do at the end, we think that we can be competitive,” Hall said. … Max Player is 0-for-3 since taking the Withers at Aqueduct on Feb. 1. Hall switched him from trainer Linda Rice to Asmussen before the Derby.
|2||Mr. Big News||Gabriel Saez||12-1|
|3||Art Collector||Brian Hernandez Jr.||5-2|
|4||Swiss Skydiver||Robby Albarado||6-1|
|5||Thousand Words||Florent Geroux||6-1|
|6||Jesus’ Team||Jevian Toledo||30-1|
|7||NY Traffic||Horacio Karamanos||15-1|
|8||Max Player||Paco Lopez||15-1|
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.