John Clay and Ben Roberts handicap Kentucky Derby 145
When your younger brother has won a Kentucky Derby, it’s easy to see how Jason Servis suffers from mistaken identity sometimes.
The only real problem for the trainer of Kentucky Derby hopeful Maximum Security comes when they bill him for his brother’s supplies.
“I deal with it all the time — from my shavings bill to my straw bill to my hay bill — it’s constant. It really is,” Jason Servis said. “And now (John’s) other son’s started training. I don’t know, we’ve got to do something.”
Jason Servis is doing something. He’s trying to get a bed of roses to match his brother and make them the only siblings to both win the Derby. John Servis won the 2004 Derby and Preakness with Smarty Jones
Some observers believe Jason Servis has a real shot at it this year.
Maximum Security is Jason Servis’ second straight Derby contender (Firenze Fire). With Omaha Beach’s scratch Thursday, Maximum Security is the co-fourth choice on the morning line at 8-1.
The bay colt owned by Gary and Mary West hasn’t been beaten in four starts and has barely been challenged, winning his maiden by nearly 10 lengths and another by more than 18.
With Luiz Saez up, he coasted to at 3 ½-length victory in the Florida Derby over a field that included fellow Derby contenders Code of Honor and Bodexpress
“I think one of his best things right now is that (Maximum Security) … hasn’t gotten to that point where he’s been last and said, ‘the heck with this stuff,’” Jason Servis joked Wednesday outside his barn at Churchill Downs. “All he knows is, ‘Here they come. I’ve got to go!’”
Maximum Security has proven unusual for a Derby contender in that he didn’t show the speed he has now in training early. Servis entered him in a $16,000 claimer to start his career figuring no one would notice and it might give his young colt some confidence.
“When I put him in, I thought he’d win. I wasn’t expecting a gallop like that. I thought he’d win a maiden $16,000, but I didn’t think he’d win by 10,” Servis said.
Worried, Servis said he quickly contacted the claims office, “I called as soon as he hit the wire. ‘Any claims?!’”
While he has less than half the starts of his brother, Jason Servis has been outpacing him recently in wins, heading for the winner’s circle at a rate of 24 percent, 6 points better than John. John Servis has 1,777 wins total to Jason’s 1,168. Jason has 50 wins this year to John’s 22.
“I didn’t even realize I was getting close to him,” said Jason Servis, who dismisses any notion of a rivalry between them. “What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine.”
But even if Jason Servis wins the Derby or even catches his brother in total wins, the younger brother will always have the worst case of mistaken identity from three years ago to lord over him .
“I can’t tell you this one, because I’m still living it down. Somebody came down to (John’s) barn and said, ‘Oh, I met your dad,” Jason Servis said, shaking his head. Jason is only a year and a half older. “I’m still fighting that. I told John, ‘Tell that guy to stay out of my barn.’”
John Servis confirmed.
“We always bust on him all the time now,” John Servis, 60, said. “Every holiday, we’re like ‘C’mon Dad, sit up here!’”
This week, the brothers share one side of Barn 43 at Churchill. John Servis has Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champ Jaywalk running in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks. A Servis Oaks-Derby double has a nice ring to it, they admit.
“The fact that we’re in the same barn right next to each other with all the attention he’s getting, it’s fantastic,” John Servis said. “The last two, three years he’s gotten some really good stock. I don’t think this is going to be his last one. I can tell you that.”