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NEW ORLEANS, LA – A bit of an enigma despite an undefeated record coming in, the Godolphin homebred Maxfield once again answered the immediate question in front of him, taking the Tenacious Stakes in what was just his second start as a 3-year-old to cap the 13-race Santa Super Saturday program at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Twice derailed by ankle injuries, the Brendan Walsh trainee returned from his second extended layoff to win for the fourth consecutive time to begin his career.
“I’m relieved,” Walsh said. “It’s nice to get him back (to the races) and have him run so well. He was working so well going into it, you’re just looking for confirmation. He gave us what we needed to see. Hopefully he comes out of it ok and we move forward from here.”
Away alertly for jockey Florent Geroux, who won 4 races on the day, the sophomore son of Street Sense put himself in a perfect pressing position just off the flank of the pacesetting Cool Bobby through moderate fractions of 24.63 and 48.39. The 0.50-1 favorite then engaged the leader on the far turn, took over at the top of the stretch, and won by a comfortable 2 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:42.35 for 1/16 miles over a fast track. Sonneman finished well late to be second and it was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Dinar in third.
“This is a horse who is maturing,” Geroux said. “When I worked him out of the gate a few weeks ago, he was very sharp away from there, so I was pretty confident he’d be up closer than he had been in his previous races. He got me in a great position and he was in a nice rhythm. He was comfortable and happy and I loved my spot. Turning for home, he gave me another gear and I kept him busy all the way to the wire because I wanted to make sure he got something out of it.”
Off slowly in the career debut over a one-turn mile at Churchill and the subsequent start in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland before rattling home late to win both, Maxfield was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with an ankle chip. When the Kentucky Derby was pushed back to the first Saturday in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the connections were in a better position to bring their prized colt back slowly.
A return run in the Matt Winn (G3) on May 23 at Churchill proved to be adventurous but successful. Five-wide and shuffled back while in tight on the first turn and hung seven-wide on the bend for home, Maxfield leveled off in the stretch before running down Ny Traffic late, and with a little in reserve.
“He was immature as a 2-year-old,” Walsh said. “I think he would have been more prominent in the Matt Winn in May if he hadn’t been stopped a couple of times.”
Following a June 10 workout at Keeneland which came in preparation for the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), Maxfield was discovered to have a non-displaced condylar fracture in his right front cannon bone. Following a successful surgery, he resumed serious training in late October, and Walsh thought the Tenacious would be the perfect race to get Maxfield back in the game.
“He was a little fresh tonight, so maybe he was a little more aggressive than normal,” Walsh said. “I don’t think he’s a deep closer by any means. He’s a stronger horse this year and I think we can ride him more prominently.”
When asked about a potential next start for Maxfield, Walsh was non-committal.
“All options are open,” Walsh said. “We will see how he comes out of the race, talk it over with the team at Godolphin and figure out the best plan going forward.”
Maxfield’s career bankroll now stands at $489,262.
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