By Alan Carasso
Making his first start since winning the GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in handsome fashion nearly eight months ago and his first since undergoing surgery to have ankle chips removed, Godolphin’s Maxfield (Street Sense) finished with a flourish down the center of the Churchill Downs main track to take Saturday’s GIII Matt Winn S. over a game Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic). ‘TDN Rising Star’ Pneumatic (Uncle Mo) was a creditable third after arguing the pace in his graded stakes debut. The victory, worth 50 points, on the road to September’s GI Kentucky Derby, takes Maxfield to a total of 60, good for a share of eighth place with Authentic (Into Mischief).
“We were really anxious to see this one,” said winning trainer Brendan Walsh. “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 when he was a 2-year-old. Jose [Ortiz] gave him a great ride. He had a different kind of style than he did in the past. He broke really good. He won and we can’t ask for more than that.”
Maxfield overcame a world of trouble to break his maiden at first asking going a mile over this strip last September, rallying from far back and exploding through the final three furlongs of the Breeders’ Futurity to stamp himself as one of the ones to beat in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita a month later. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as he was withdrawn on the eve of the race and underwent surgery a few weeks thereafter. Coronavirus threw another wrench into his early-season preparation, but he proved Saturday that the delays caused by the pandemic could benefit him most, pound-for-pound.
After breaking slowly in each of his two previous starts, Maxfield was put straight into the race by Jose Ortiz from the eight hole in field reduced to 10 by a pair of scratches and was far handier than ever before in the run around the first turn before settling at the back of the leading group entering the backstretch. Longshot Celtic Striker (Congrats) showed the way from the two path, as Pneumatic was ridden to hold a spot at the fence and Ny Traffic three deep. Celtic Striker was not surprisingly one of the first beaten, leaving Pneumatic and Ny Traffic heads apart at the three-eighths marker, but Maxfield looked up and down at that juncture before jumping into the bridle nearing the stretch. Splitting the luckless duo of Attachment Rate (Hard Spun) and Major Fed (Ghostzapper) at the head of the lane, Maxfield flew down the center of the track, was bothered by a wayward Ny Traffic in the final 100 yards and came away to score comfortably in the end.
“The start is a key part of the race,” Ortiz commented. “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.”
Maxfield is the second foal from his dam, a winning daughter of MGSW Caress, responsible for GISW and fellow Breeders’ Futurity–a Grade II in 2002–hero Sky Mesa (Pulpit) and MGSW/GISP Golden Velvet (Seeking the Gold), the dam of GSW turfer Lucullan (Hard Spun), GSW Innovative Idea (Bernardini) and SP Embossed (Medaglia d’Oro). Third dam La Affirmed was a half-sister to champion and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Outstandingly (Exclusive Native) and produced Caress’s GSW/MGISP full-sister Country Cat; her full-brother Bernstein, sire of Tepin; and MGSW/GISP Della Francesca (Danzig). Velvety is the dam of a 2-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt, a yearling filly by the same sire and dropped a full-brother to Maxfield Apr. 4 of this year.
Saturday, Churchill Downs
MATT WINN S.-GIII, $150,000, Churchill Downs, 5-23, 3yo,
1 1/16m, 1:43.05, ft.
1–MAXFIELD, 123, c, 3, by Street Sense
1st Dam: Velvety, by Bernardini
2nd Dam: Caress, by Storm Cat
3rd Dam: La Affirmed, by Affirmed
O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brendan P. Walsh; J-Jose L. Ortiz.
$88,350. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-3-0-0, $442,762.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus* Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Ny Traffic, 118, c, 3, Cross Traffic–Mamie Reilly, by Graeme
Hall. ($27,000 RNA 2yo ’19 EASMAY). O-John Fanelli, Cash is
King LLC, LC Racing & Paul Braverman; B-Brian Culnan (NY);
T-Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. $28,500.
3–Pneumatic, 118, c, 3, Uncle Mo–Teardrop, by Tapit.
‘TDN Rising Star’ O/B-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (KY);
T-Steven M. Asmussen. $14,250.
Margins: 1, 3/4, 3 1/4. Odds: 1.30, 3.70, 2.60.
Also Ran: Attachment Rate, Necker Island, Celtic Striker, Shake Some Action, Informative, Flap Jack, Major Fed. Scratched: Crypto Cash, Mystic Guide.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.