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Matt Winn Preview: Maxfield Set for 3-Year-Old Debut
Maxfield winning the Breeders' Futurity (Credit: JennyPhoto)

Matt Winn Preview: Maxfield Set for 3-Year-Old Debut

LOUISVILLE, KY – The Kentucky Derby prep races return this weekend with Saturday’s $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3), which will be contested underneath the Twin Spires at historic Churchill Downs.

The Matt Winn drew a solid field of 12 horses with solid potential looking to earn their way into the starting gate on the first Saturday in September. Local post time for the race is 5:44 PM Eastern and will go off as race 10 on the card.

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Maxfield is the most exciting entry. The undefeated colt won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland as a 2-year-old, which led to him getting plenty of hype heading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Park. However, an injury forced him to miss quite a bit of time, delaying his 3-year-old debut until now, but he should benefit from the Kentucky Derby being pushed to September. His road there begins right here.

NY Traffic could be the biggest challenger after a solid 2020 campaign thus far. Following an allowance win at Gulfstream Park, he shipped to Fair Grounds for his next two starts, finishing third in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and second in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Those efforts will most likely be enough to earn him a shot at the Kentucky Derby, and this race might be a bit softer than those two events. 

One horse looking to make an immediate impact against stakes company is Pneumatic, who smake his debut at this level. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt is 2-for-2 so far in his young career, winning a maiden special weight and an entry-level allowance at Oaklawn Park. Those victories earned him a shot to try better company here.

The full field from the rail out: Mystic Guide, Pneumatic, Informative, Celtic Striker, Flap Jack, Ny Traffic, Necker Island, Crypto Cash, Shake Some Action, Maxfield, Attachment Rate, and Major Fed.

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Top Choice

#2 Pneumatic – He lacks stakes experience, but he defeated a next-out winner named Skol Factor on debut, and he also beat a loaded allowance field with ease in his next start. This is his toughest challenge yet, but it is nice to know that he has already defeated horses who will eventually be stakes runners. He won that last race with plenty left in the tank as well, which signals that he could be ready for a big effort in this spot. We will take a shot with him pulling off the upset.

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers 

#10 Maxfield – This is who everyone wants to see. His debut is one of the more heavily-anticipated that we have had had in a while because of his big effort in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and with the Kentucky Derby moved to September, his connections have been able to take their time with him, which will likely be beneficial. From a betting standpoint, he does not offer much value, and there are major question marks due to the layoff. You have to use him defensively in multi-race wagers, but we are taking a shot against him on top. 

#6 Ny Traffic – Since moving to the barn of Saffie Joseph, Jr., he has looked like a new horse. He began his season with an allowance win at Gulfstream Park, which led to a start at Fair Grounds in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). He was third there, then backed that effort up with a second in the Louisiana Derby (G2). You can make a case that the Louisiana Derby might have been tougher than this race, which gives him a big shot to get to the wire first.

#12 Major Fed – Two starts back, this consisten runner made his stakes debut at Fair Grounds in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), finishing second. He followed that with a fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2), where he got way too far behind early but still came running late. Use him if you can go afford to go deep with your multi-race bets. 

Exotic Plays

#11 Attachment Rate – After breaking his maiden impressively three starts back, he shipped to Aqueduct and finished a solid third in the Gotham Stakes (G3). Most recently, he was second in the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He may not be good enough to win this, but you can have confidence that he will show up with a solid effort. 

#9 Shake Some Action – After winning an allowance at Fair Grounds, trainer Brad Cox moved him up to stakes action for his next start, which resulted in a sixth-place effort in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Cox horses tend to improve as the year goes along, making him a nice candidate to play underneath.

For Our FULL CARD Saturday Churchill Downs Picks, Check Out Our Matt Winn Wagering Guide

Party Crashers 

#1 Mystic Guide – He could be any kind after an ultra-impressive triumph last time out in a maiden special weight race at Fair Grounds. Throwing him into stakes company off of that win seems ambitious, and drawing the rail probably won’t do him many favors, but he is still one to consider, especially if his odds are double digits. Even with a loss here, he is one to watch throughout this season. 

Throw Outs 

#8 Crypto Cash – He has started on all three surfaces, but it seems like dirt is where he runs best. To make an impact here, he will need to improve off of his last effort, which saw him finish sixth in what looked to be the weaker division of the Arkansas Derby (G1).

#7 Necker Island – He has had plenty of chances to make an impact this season but has been non-competitive in three straight efforts, and this seems to be the toughest field he’s seen yet. You have to take a pass on him until he proves himself. 

#5 Flap Jack – He ran some nice races as a 2-year-old, but his 3-year-old season has not been nearly as kind. He was well-beaten in both the Oaklawn Stakes and the Gotham Stakes (G3). He could show some improvement here, though, in his third start off of the layoff.

#3 Informative – It took him 8 starts races to break his maiden, which is never a good sign. He did face decent horses, though, so he has some class, but he must greatly improve off of his last effort, which saw him finish sixth in the Gotham Stakes (G3)

#4 Celtic Striker – His two efforts against stakes company did not go all that well, which makes him a real outsider here. Simply put, he really needs to improve from a speed figure standpoint in order to get the job done here.

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