After circling rivals with an eye-catching move on final turn, Maxfield powered home much the best in Saturday’s $600,000 Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs. The four-year-old colt earned his sixth stakes victory, improving to 7-for-8 overall for owner/breeder Godolphin and trainer Brendan Walsh, and it was arguably his most impressive win yet.
“It was a really good performance,” Walsh said. “It looks like he continues to improve all the time. Thankfully now he’s been good and healthy. Our goal has been to get a good string of races into him and that’s starting to happen. I’m glad to get over another obstacle today. We’ll hope he comes out of today’s race in good order and we’ll move on to the next one.”
Maxfield stamped his ticket to the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar in the “Win & You’re In” event, and the dark bay son of Street Sense completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.53 with jockey Jose Ortiz.
The 2-5 favorite took the overland route, angling wide into the backstretch. Maxfield settled about five lengths behind Empty Tomb, who established opening fractions in :23.33 and :46.88. Sprawl was chasing in second, and took over rounding the final turn, but gave way after an electric move by Maxfield.
Maxfield exploded past rivals, and his momentum carried him further out toward the middle of the stretch as he assumed control. Ortiz straightened Maxfield as he began to draw clear, gearing down his mount in deep stretch as he cruised to an easy 3 1/4-length decision.
“I just sort of had to stay out of his way,” Ortiz said. “He has a big stride and does it so nicely. It’s great to be back here at Churchill with this horse. He seems to be getting better and loves it here.”
Warrior’s Charge rallied for second at 7-1 odds after a troubled start, two lengths better than 12-1 Sprawl in third. Next came South Bend, Chess Chief, Empty Tomb, Necker Island, Visitant, and Silver Dust.
Maxfield was exiting a 3 1/4-length score in the Alysheba (G2) on the April 30 Kentucky Oaks undercard. Winner of last year’s Matt Winn (G3) and his career debut at age 2, he’s now 4-for-4 under the Twin Spires.
The Kentucky-bred captured the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in his second career start, but Maxfield was forced to miss the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) due to injury. He returned in the Matt Winn last May, but headed to the sidelines again after the one-length tally.
Maxfield rolled in the Tenacious S. at Fair Grounds when reappearing in mid-December. After adding the Mineshaft (G3) two months later, he sustained his lone defeat shipping west for the Santa Anita H. (G1) in early March, checking in third.
From the immediate female family of graded stakes winners Caress, Golden Velvet, Innovative Idea, Lucullan, and Sky Mesa, Maxfield pushed his earning past the $1 million mark ($1,265,902) on Saturday.
“We had a lot of confidence today,” Godolphin North American President Jimmy Bell said. “He settled down up the backside and down the lane he finished in a strong hand ride. It’s his fourth start of the year, so it’s good to see the succession of races coming together. We can look at the (Aug. 7) Whitney (G1) as a primary target.”
Along with Maxfield, Godolphin has another major contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Mystic Guide, who will return to action in next Saturday’s Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park.