By Katie Ritz
An expected Kentucky Derby favorite, Godolphin homebred Maxfield (Street Sense) suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his right front leg Wednesday morning while breezing a half-mile at Keeneland.
The Brendan Walsh trainee joins a growing list of 3-year-olds now off the Derby trail as Wells Bayou (Lookin At Lucky) was found to have bone bruising also on Wednesday morning. Within the past two weeks, the race also lost the undefeated Bob Baffert colts Nadal (Blame) and Charlatan (Speightstown) due to injuries.
“He wasn't cooling out right after the work,” Walsh said of Maxfield's Wednesday morning training session. “We knew right after and we were able to get on it as quick as possible.”
An X-ray revealed the injury and the colt was swiftly sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. There he underwent surgery with internationally recognized equine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage.
“Everything went really well,” Walsh reported Wednesday afternoon following the surgery. “They put a couple screws into the fracture and it came together really, really well.”
Walsh said they will know more in the next few days. “When these things happen, everything needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible,” he said. “It just gives them a better chance for everything to come together. In this case, it looks like it has and, hopefully, he will have a good few days, which is going to be really important. And then we'll take it from there.”
A son of the Darley sire and Kentucky Derby hero Street Sense, Maxfield is the second foal out of the Godolphin mare Velvety (Bernardini), a half to Grade I winner and sire Sky Mesa (Pulpit) as well as the multiple graded stakes-winning Golden Velvet (Seeking the Gold).
Maxfield showed promise early on as a juvenile when he broke his maiden at first asking in September at Churchill Downs. Next out he took the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland by over five lengths. A favorite going into the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, an ankle chip forced the colt to drop out of contention days before the race.
Returning onto the scene with a vengeance, last month Maxfield staked his claim as a top 3-year-old when he won the GIII Matt Winn S.
It was announced June 8 that Walsh would not be pointing his star toward the GI Belmont S., this year's first leg of the Triple Crown, but would instead look toward the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. July 11.
This was to be Walsh's second Kentucky Derby starter. Just weeks ago, the trainer was hand grazing his star pupil while awaiting the van that would take Maxfield to Churchill for the Matt Winn, and was commenting on the horse's sound mind as the van roared up to the barn and the colt didn't bat an eye.
Racing superpower Godolphin has yet to win the illustrious Kentucky Derby. While a victory from a homebred horse by a Darley sire would have been a storybook success, everyone involved is focusing on the fact that their superstar colt came out of surgery as well as could be asked.
“At the end of the day, it would have been an awful lot worse if it had been something catastrophic or a worse injury,” Walsh said. “I think that's the way to look at it. It's unfortunate, but these things happen. The only thing you can do is hope the horse makes a good recovery.”
Godolphin President Jimmy Bell said in a press release, “This is a very disappointing event, obviously, but we are certainly grateful that Maxfield's injury wasn't worse and we look forward to seeing him return to the races next year.”
Looking ahead, Walsh added, “Who knows, hopefully, he can get back to the racetrack, but if not, he can go on to become a hell of a stallion, which I'm sure he will be. We'll see what happens.”