LOUISVILLE, KY – Godolphin homebred Maxfield flexed his toughness on Saturday, overcoming a lengthy layoff and a rough-riding rival to win the $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well from post 10 as the 6/5 favorite under Jose Ortiz, Maxfield was forwardly-placed early, running within just a few lengths of the pace. The field bunched up off of the clubhouse turn behind Celtic Striker, who held a narrow advantage over Ny Traffic, Pneumatic, and Attachment Rate, among others.
The front-runners continued running tightly while posting opening fractions of :23.98, :48.21, and 1:12.44. Ny Traffic poked his head in front midway through the far turn while running three-wide outside of Celtic Strike and Pneumatic, who battled back at the top of the stretch.
The two were set down for the stretch drive, but behind them, Maxfield was running hard in the middle of the lane and gobbling ground quickly. Near the 1/16 pole, Ny Traffic drifted out and caused Maxfield to alter course even wider, but the bettors’ choice took the contact in stride and continued running powerfully.
Despite valiant efforts from Ny Traffic and Pneumatic, Maxfield drew clear in the final stages for victory. The Brendan Walsh trainee crossed 1 length the best in a final time of 1:43.05 for the 1 1/16-mile fast main track route.
“The start is a key part of the race,” Ortiz said. “Last time I worked him out of the gate at Keeneland, he worked better. He’s really matured a lot. If you can keep breaking like he did today and be in a spot like he did, he’s going to be a really nice horse.”
Though he yielded the lead late, Ny Traffic held second over Pneumatic by 3/4 of a length. Attachment Rate was 3 1/4 lengths further back in fourth, securing that position by 3/4 of a length over Necker Island.
Completing the order of finish came Celtic Striker, Shake Some Action, Informative, Flap Jack, and Major Fed. The two scratches were Crypto Cash and Mystic Guide.
The Matt Winn is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Maxfield earned 50 points for the win, with Ny Traffic receiving 20 for second, Pneumatic 10 for third, and Attachment Rate 5 for fourth.
Maxfield’s win was his third in as many career starts, having broken his maiden here on September 14 before taking the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) three weeks later. The 3-year-old Street Sense colt was making his first appearance since being scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) due to a minor injury.
“We were really anxious to see this one,” Walsh said. “It wasn’t an easy spot, either. I think the top four horses are all really nice horses. It’s nice to get this one out of the way. It’s good to see him come back and see he’s as good, if not better than, as when he was a 2-year-old.”
Maxfield returned $4.60 to win, $3.80 to place, and $2.80 to show. Ny Traffic brought back $4.40 to place and $3 to show, while Pneumatic paid $2.80 to show.