LEXINGTON, KY – Godolphin’s homebred Maxfield put forth a monstrous effort in the stretch, sweeping past the highly-regarded Gouverneur Morris before taking off to win Saturday’s $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
The Breeders’ Futurity is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Maxfield receiving an automatic berth in the TVG Juvenile at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking a step slow from post 6 under Jose Ortiz at 6/1 odds, Maxfield lingered near the rear while American Butterfly set the opening pace, posting fractions of :24.01, :47.78, and 1:12.46. Sent from post 10 as the 3/2 favorite, Gouverneur Morris was unable to clear enough foes to his inside and was forced to run three-wide into the clubhouse turn.
Finding his best footing midway down the backstretch, Maxfield began picking off foes quickly and efficiently while zig-zagging through the field in the far turn. Near the top of the stretch, Maxfield’s momentum slingshot him past Gouverneur Morris, who had momentarily taken the lead midway through the turn.
Continuing to draw off powerfully in the stretch, Maxfield crossed 5 1/2 lengths much the best in a final time of 1:44.21 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“He’s a very nice horse and he’s very smart,” Ortiz said of the Brendan Walsh trainee. “He broke slow first time, took dirt and came running at Churchill (Downs when he broke his maiden). Today, he did the same thing. Broke a bit slow, relaxed, and when I asked him to go, he was there for me the whole time.”
While no match for the winner, Gouverneur Morris dug in late to hold off Enforceable by a 1/2-length for second. Ajaaweed ran wide in the far turn and was able to get up for fourth ahead of By Your Side, while American Butterfly gave way off the turn and faded to sixth. January Won was a head behind him in seventh.
Completing the order of finish came King Theo, Life On the Road, and Tap It to Win, who was rank early and nearly caused an incident in the clubhouse turn.
Maxfield’s win was his second in as many starts, having broken his maiden on debut at Churchill Downs on September 14. The 2-year-old son of Street Sense has now earned $354,412.
“I’ve been around a lot of good horses, and good horses breathe different air,” Walsh said. “I think this horse is right there. I thought he might take a run or two to break his maiden, but we knew he was a super-talented horse. He overcame a lot the first day we ran him, and he came out of that race doing so good. To come back in three weeks for a horse that’s only run once is a big ask, but he answers every question.”
Maxfield returned $14.80 to win, $5.60 to place, and $3.80 to show. Gouverneur Morris brought back $3.40 to place and $2.80 to show, while Enforceable paid $6.20 to show.
The Breeders’ Futurity is also a Kentucky Derby qualifying race, distributing 10 points to Maxfield, 4 to Gouverneur Morris, 2 to Enforceable, and 1 to Ajaaweed.