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Absent since winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last October, Godolphin homebred Maxfield is reportedly pointing to the $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 23 for his 2020 debut, according to a recent BloodHorse article.
Maxfield debuted at Churchill Downs on September 14 in a mile-long maiden special weight. Though he broke slowly and raced at the rear early, Jose Ortiz piloted Maxfield five-wide through the far turn and down the stretch to win by 3/4 of a length.
Trainer Brendan Walsh brought him back less than a month later for the Breeders’ Futurity, a 1 1/16-mile two-turn test at Keeneland. Once again, he overcame a slow start and drew off in the stretch to win by 5 1/2 lengths with Ortiz in the irons. That field included future graded stakes-placed foes Enforceable (who later won the Lecomte Stakes [G3]) and Gouverneur Morris.
Maxfield was expected to contend for favoritism in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) a month later at Santa Anita Park, but just three days before the race, Walsh was forced to scratch him after he looked off in his right front. He later had surgery to remove a mildly displaced chip in his ankle and was given 60 days’ rest, with his connections choosing to build him toward a trip on the Kentucky Derby (G1) Trail.
“Terrible timing, but it was really a pretty easy call,” Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA, said as the injury scratch was announced. “Brendan said when he came out this morning and washed off the poultice that he said it was just a little off. You don’t know what they’ve done in the stall, so we took him for a jog around there, and for whatever reason, he wasn’t himself. He’s an easy horse to read and we’re proactive. It’s just terrible timing.”
Walsh has spent the past two months building a foundation back into Maxfield with a steady string of strong efforts dotting his workouts. Most recently, Maxfield completed 6 furlongs – his longest work to date – at Keeneland in 1:13.20.
Walsh was waiting for the right opportunity to put Maxfield back into competition when Churchill Downs announced that the Matt Winn – traditionally held in mid-June – would be moved to May 23 and become a minor Kentucky Derby prep race. The winner of the race will receive 10 points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, along with 4 to the second-place finisher, 2 to third, and 1 to fourth.
Maxfield is a 3-year-old son of Street Sense out of the Bernardini mare Velvety. Ortiz temporarily stopped riding in mid-March due to the pandemic but is expected to return in time to climb back aboard Maxfield for the Matt Winn.
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